Why are Christians taking what Trump has said to the extreme?
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment…” [Matt 22: 36 & 37]
For some little while now there was a popular Christian slogan that I read on a lot of bumper stickers: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” This is, arguably the ideal Christian bumper sticker slogan. When you read it in passing, (as it passes you at 60 miles/hour stuck to someone’s bumper) you can get the gist of it pretty quickly. And upon first reading or hearing this phrase, its seems self-explanatory. But when you begin to drill down, even a little way into scriptures, you’ll find that this slogan is preposterous in that it’s undoable. Even people who believe in static interpretations of scriptures will get to a place pretty quickly where they begin stumbling over their own feet. As an opening scripture I included one of my favorites. It’s one that pretty much yanks the power cord out of the wall on today’s theme phrase. In this scripture Jesus is admonishing us to love God and follows this with a line of qualifiers. These qualifiers are often skipped over altogether or thought of as a kind of flattery or exultation. These qualifiers are specific admonitions that Jesus is giving us; but because we think of them as somewhat superfluous they are most often overlooked. The ramification of people overlooking these qualifiers (throughout the centuries) has led to the decimation of the gospel message within the overall body of Christian believers. As a consequence over 2000 years of Christians following Jesus, we have thousands of denominations, claiming to be his disciples and at the same time having little tolerance for others outside of their own particular Christian brand.
Since the rise of Donald Trump and his sizable following of perverse Christians, we are seeing cultural fissures forming within individual congregations. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to view the national cultural rift we are experiencing today as having its roots, its origin, in the heart of the larger Christian community. The practice of ignoring admonitions from Jesus has become so widespread and commonplace that a large segment of Christians have come to embrace Donald Trump and his fractious tweets with such abandon, they believe that he speaks for Jesus. In this we can make some new bumper stickers that read: “Don said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
The reason Jesus put the qualifier into this first of the two great commandments was because His Jewish neighbors were already plagued with the tendency of paying mindless fealty to their Old Testament deity. The reason for this resided in the condition of being insulated from Him by the Law of Moses. Just like back then, the Christian doctrines we hold to today insulate us from having a living, dynamic relationship with God Himself (Herself). Jesus was fully aware of this insulating effect the Law had on the people so He put in these specific qualifiers, commanding them to… “Love God with their entire minds”! The same commandment is there for us; and He is inviting us to quit putting God inside the doctrinal box so as to allow Him better access for interacting with and inspiring our minds as well as our hearts.
If we do this then the bumper sticker slogan ceases to have any meaning to us or power over us. If we succeed in moving past this subject/master relationship with God and let go of thinking He demands obedience and fealty from us, then we will find ourselves operating from a vantage point of freedom and extreme empowerment. This freedom and empowerment will be emanating from the presence of the Holy Ghost within us. Once this happens, a different, more rational and inspired truth will begin to emerge in our thoughts and in our desires. As more and more Christians and others find ways of embracing and aspiring to this ideal, we all should begin seeing evidence that the fences dividing us are beginning to fall down and the big cultural rift within our nation is beginning to fill in!
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