Christianity -- Christian Living/Comment on TSA post

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Barbara,
Good morning and I trust you had a meaningful Christmas season. This is more of a comment than a question but I would appreciate your take.
Evangelicals seem to pick and choose which sins they stand against and I think this may be one reason that their stands and admonisions fall on deaf ears today. Example? You were willing to elect a President who does not believe in Jesus the way you do because he stood against abortion, for example. Yet during the primaries y'all were willing to support a man who had clearly and acknowledgely committed adultery and married his partner in crime, (the ex Speaker of the House) both clearly prohibited by the Bible. And before you say he was repentant he was not, otherwise he would have divorced his mistress and remained single for the rest of his life. Another? Many Evangelicals during the campaigns posted and spoke numerous lies and untruths about our current President (and continue to do so today), yet there is clearly a commandment against bearing false witness and another against murder(ing another's character). I could go on even with Jesus' own teachings concerning taking care of the poor and downcast which was clearly violated by the sequester and shut down, but I think my point is made. I believe this hypocrisy is something Evangelicals and esoecially those evangelicals in the political realm must deal with to once again be taken seriously.

You say that Jesus avoided the two polar opposites but the fact is that he was both Pharasee and liberal. The latter is clear in his teachings as is the former if one has eyes to see. Example? Surely. Whether the Sabbath was made for man or man for the Sabbath was a contemporary argument between the two schools of Jewish thought at the time. Rabbi Jesus sided with the more lenient Rabbi Hillel in all his rulings save one (he sided with the more stringent Rabbi Shammai on divorce). All of Jesus' rulings and arguments are typical Pharasaic arguments. Only with a true perspective of the time and sociopoliticoreligious can one truly understand his teachings. Only by seperating him from his times can one claim the Jesus of today.

Thank you and blessings!

Answer
Thank you, Joel, I hope you are having a blessed Christmas season as well.  Thank you also for your comments.  I appreciate them.

It’s important that we all engage in conversation because it’s really more than just talk.  It’s fleshing out what it means to live as Christians in a world that would rather that we didn’t do anything other than put up and shut up.

I can appreciate your sentiment about evangelicals picking and choosing which sins are real and worth fighting against and which ones are easily enough passed over.  The same applies whether evangelical, mainstream, New Age, Mormons, Buddhists, Islamists, etc.  The truth is we’re all hypocrites and choose where to fight our battles and where to sit on the sidelines.

I look at presidential and congressional elections and recognize that each person—Christian or not—is a flawed vessel.  We are all sinners whose goodness is overrated.  As such, we must make decisions about which flaws we can live with and which ones we cannot.  In these elections, I am not electing a spiritual leader, but a political leader who (I hope) will allow us to move forward in our Christian expression.  So, my vote would be dramatically different if I was electing my pastor or the Pope.  For a politician, there is such a thing as the lesser of two evils in a US system in which we typically have only two alternatives.  A theological worldview in a president is important, but in the Pope, for example, it would be paramount and therefore, it’s a blessing that there is a wider pool from which to examine any individual’s theology.

Since we’re all sinners, does it really matter in the eyes of God whether one sinner happens to be a woman who has aborted babies 7 times over her lifetime versus a man who has divorced and remarried a few times over?  What matter is that Jesus had to die because all the persons above (apart from Jesus)—every woman, baby, man, ex-wife, new wife, etc.—are all conceived under the curse of sin and fall short of the glory of God.  Maybe that sin is pride.  Maybe that sin is greed.  Maybe that sin is murder, child abuse, shoplifting, or chronic untruths.  

Sin counts.  The only sin that counts with a different weight or gravity is the "unforgivable sin” which is far less common that the garden variety we all do all the time.

Has the current president lied?  I’m positive he has at some point in his life.  (He’s not sinless or the Messiah).  Did the sequester hurt people?  I’m sure it did.  Others—of a younger generation particularly—are actually helped by the sequester’s forcing us to live within our national financial means.  Taxation hurts some.  The Affordable Care Act has hurt some.  We could catalogue sins, events, and harms to our brethren all day long but the truth is: It’s nothing new and it will not be resolved this side of heaven.

What Christians need to look at is what to do about Jesus.  We must continually reconsider what He did about human sin.

The truth is: Jesus was not conservative, Pharisee, liberal, or Essene, etc.  He was altogether unique as the Son of God, Son of Man.

Jesus was remarkably apolitical—because His Kingdom is not of this world.  It never has been part of this world, therefore, He didn’t look for political solutions to spiritual problems.  In Advent 1, He didn’t condemn adulteresses or demand that the perfume be sold and the money given to the poor.  He didn’t tell the poor woman not to give an offering or demand that rich people must always give more.  He wasn’t impressed with fine Pharisee arguments or down on the unschooled.  He was far more concerned about people’s hearts than their happiness, their character than their comfort.  He was far more concerned about their personal holiness than their feelings. He was far more concerned with their repentance than their arguments as to why they believe they are right.  

He was supremely concerned with their eternal outcome which will be fixed in stone at Advent 2 (when He returns as Judge).  That was His focus each and every day.  He didn’t let Himself get distracted by politics, opinion polls, or people-pleasing.

One actually needs to go farther back than the socio-politico-religious era in which Jesus lived to understand what it's all about.  Jesus Himself frequently brought His teachings back to “In the beginning” to show God’s original intent regarding personal holiness.  Jesus also reframed the “you have heard” of the Scriptures (Matthew 5) with the “I tell you” pointing to His higher calling.  

We do not have a liberal or conservative Jesus, a Republican or a Democrat Jesus.  He’s too big for that.  We’ve created a Jesus by looking from earth heavenward, seeing God through the lens of human politics, power, and sinful desires.  The real Jesus is not created at all, but existed in heaven, entered our world for a time for one reason.  

What was that reason?  Was it to secure economic justice? (No)  Was it to end hypocrisy? (No)  Was it to provide reproductive choices? (No)  The one and only reason He came is because the Father loved His image in His human creation so much that Jesus’ sinless life and unjust death as payment for our sins was the only way possible for us to be reunited with our Creator.  

There is nothing political about that at all.  It costs us nothing but repentance.  It’s available to all as a free gift.  Everything else we do—politically, socially, relationally, and economically—is supposed to flow as a response to the grace we have already been shown in Jesus.  So long as people exalt these lesser goals above the Savior Himself, we will continue to have hypocrites.  We will continue our decline as a world civilization.  And Christians will need to suffer more to uphold the biblical values and preach the biblical truth to a culture that is hell-bound apart from it.

That’s what the Bible teaches, anyway.

Thank you for the opportunity to converse on this.  It is indeed important.
Blessings always in Christ, Barbara <><  

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Barbara Shafer

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Barbara Shafer (Seminary Gal now also at http://seminarygal.com ) I am an Evangelical Christian who is willing to answer faith questions in a thoughtful, researched manner. In particular, my heart`s desire is to assist those who need answers regarding suffering and those seeking to reconcile the Christian faith with the field of science. SeminaryGal.com

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I have a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I particularly enjoy apologetics (defense and explanation of the Christian faith) and systematic theology (understanding how the Bible itself supports various aspects of Christian doctrine). Both of these play a vital role in the "nuts and bolts" of evangelism... but the heart of Christian evangelism is love and compassion. A turning point for me was when I experienced the loss of my daughter Julia. Since then, my heart has been to help people who struggle to understand the Christian faith (and those who may be questioning the goodness of God) in light of the problem of evil and suffering. I've been informally answering Bible questions via other Internet avenues for over 10 years- to skeptics and believers alike. Thank you for blessing me with these opportunities.

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Master of Divinity, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

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