First off, my heart is breaking right now. I’m not angry. I mean, I have been. I think we’ve all had our moments this year. With the stress of a pandemic, whether it’s dealing with it hands on, like me as a nurse, or the side effects of the virus, like financial loss or a failing small business, it’s been weighing on us all. I’ve been described as a frontline worker since March, but aren’t we all frontline workers in one way or another? The difficulties of this year haven’t missed a one of us. That inherent stress is what I’ve been blaming public response on for the past couple of months. When someone acts like a jerk, you try and remind yourself how kind they normally are. You know, before the world fell to hell in a hand basket (minus the basket).
So, for months I’ve watched the transformation of people on social media. I initially blamed it on 2020 stress, but then I started to wonder.
I asked myself, “is this year just bringing out true colors?”
As a Christian writer I get a lot of friend requests from strangers on social media. They see my words, whether from a Facebook friend, my own website, or even other Christian sites that share my work, and they shoot me a request or a follow. I’m used to that. I usually hit their profile, ensuring they’re not a fake account or something bizarre, and unless I get a weird feeling in my gut, I’ll usually accept. But last week I had a situation that gave me pause. And when I say pause, I mean it broke my heart. I literally felt like I might weep for the way our Nation is going. The thing is, I got a request from a stranger, per usual, but when I went over to the profile I found the introductory information made me wince.
It said other stuff too. I can’t recall the exact descriptive terms. It was probably something like mother, wife, friend of animals or something. The point is that only two words made me stop and consider if I wanted this person having access to my life.
Conservative and Christian. It wasn’t the words separately, mind you, but the combination that scared me. Before this year I had never responded this way, but the magnifying glass applied by a pandemic and a racial injustice awakening had changed things for me. That. Broke. My. Heart.
I am a Christian. I am a Conservative. I am a Republican. These are all titles I have used and proclaimed when asked for as long as I can remember, but that was before this year happened. Something has changed.
Starting around the end of April (yes, after the stress of isolation), I began to see those true colors I mentioned. I saw friends (like, actual people I knew) on social media saying the most awful things. These were people who used the title, Christian, but the words they were spewing were the most un-Christ-like things ever. I saw everything from, “only nasty people with poor hygiene in poor neighborhoods get COVID-19,” to “this is God’s punishment for homosexuality.” I could have filled a notebook with the horrible things that came from the mouths of Bible-believing folks, but at the time I just tried to push it away from my mind.
Next came George Floyd. Y’all know what I’m talking about. True colors if ever there was such a thing. I’m telling you, you could spot a bigot from a mile away after that happened. My heart hurt, though, because I watched as “good” people, Christian friends I had always respected shared heinous memes and heartless words. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears, and I watched the great divide begin.
A segment of the population emerged that wanted to embrace the hurting with love. It made my heart proud to see so many join spiritual hands to lift up the fallen and broken. Slowly, though, the snakes emerged. People intent on coming up with reasons why they couldn’t love, couldn’t speak love, show love, or be love. Excuses emerged covered in religious rhetoric, and my heart broke.
Supporting a marginalized people was equated with Marxism, and I think that’s when I first noticed it. A large majority of my Christian friends shared the same words. No, I don’t mean like a similar sentiment. I mean they shared the exact same words, y’all. It was as if everyone had copied off the same kid in class when cheating on a test. Everyone turned in the same plagiarized paper. As I sought truth my Christian friends shared with me the same videos, speaking the same words, and deriving from the same websites. Conservative Christian, Right-leaning, Red State, Republican websites. It turns out it was repetitive for a reason. Everyone was drinking the same kool-aid, and everyone was gobbling up the same ideas like they were Gospel truth. My thing was, what about the real Gospels?! This stuff didn’t sound anything like Jesus.
Look, this isn’t some pride thing, but just a little background. I read my Bible every day. If I’m off work (four days a week, typically) I will read my Bible, pray, and seek the Lord for hours. That’s just my life. My husband does the same thing. It makes us happy. It gives us peace. The other thing it does? It gives us the perspective of Christ. When you read His words enough times, it kinda sticks. It seriously becomes who you are. I had been devoting serious time (like, beyond reading a devotion or two in the morning or just church on Sunday) to extensive Bible study and listening to the Holy Spirit for a few years. It. Changed. My. Life. For the better, I might add. The problem for me was a lot of what I was seeing from these articles shared from Conservative Christian friends did not coincide with the words from the Bible. I mean, it quoted scripture and such, but it also bent it to suit its need. That didn’t settle well with me.
And so began my turmoil. I struggled. So many people I loved, friends from years’ past, they were not on the same page. I wondered if I was the problem. I dug deeper, prayed more, sought Godly counsel. Everything came back the same. Conservative Christianity had changed. Somewhere along the way it had become about politics foremost, and everything else second. My heart broke. Again.
I felt like a light had come on. Suddenly I could see the hate veiled under the title Christian. I could understand why so many people had left the church. I continued to watch hate spew from the mouths of “Christians” online, but then I understood why. It wasn’t Christ they were serving anymore. I think they thought they were, still think they are, but in reality they have lifted up an idol much higher than Jesus. My heart breaks.
I’m trying to figure out when Christianity began to equal Republican Party? I can remember during the election in 2016, Conservative Christians banded together. We voted for life. We chose the candidate who supported a pro-life stance. That’s what you were/are supposed to do as a Christian. Being pro-life, I had no problem getting behind this idea. The problem for me started shortly thereafter.
You are worshipping politics over Christ if you can support politicians who carry zero fruits of the spirit, but agree to wear the red tie. If you can turn the other way when a politician speaks hate, vulgarity, and divisive language, but promote them holding up a Bible, you’re a hypocrite. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was still a Conservative Christian, but I couldn’t serve a political party only. I had to serve my fellow man.
If you blindly accept only “news” from right-leaning websites then you serve politics over Jesus. If you will believe every word from a documented liar’s mouth, but not listen to friends with a differing opinion, you serve a political party over Christianity. If you can respond in hate before love when someone disagrees with you, you are beginning to model the behavior of a president over the behavior of our Savior. These are hard facts. If you are more inclined to memorize and share the words from the political site of your choice than read, listen, think about, and live out the words in scripture, you have placed Conservative Christianity on a pedestal above Christ. My heart breaks.
When you believe a stranger on a viral video more than a personal friend, I would suggest you ask yourself why. Are politics clouding your vision? Are you serving the Republican Party more than the hurting people in your own neighborhood? Are you repeating, believing, and walking out a belief system instilled by politics and the people around you, or are you trying to follow the words of Jesus? My heart breaks.
And that’s the jest of it. My heart is breaking. It’s breaking for a people who are serving the wrong master. We cannot pick a handful of big issues and allow that to be our compass for good. We cannot celebrate pro-life while simultaneously demeaning immigrants and minorities. We cannot stand firmly on what the Bible states is sin, but then sin towards others. We cannot serve a God who is love, yet not love.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Do you know what love does not do? It doesn’t serve earthly masters. It doesn’t place a political party, president, and those particular agendas above fellow man. Love also understands the battle we face, not one of flesh and blood, but one of principalities and powers of darkness. Love knows the real enemy is Satan and his demonic army, not Democrats or the infamous Left. Love hates sin, but it doesn’t hate mankind. God is love, and we must begin to serve love and in love rather than the ideas of man and this world. Politics have become a stronghold, a chain around the necks of good people, and this year alone has shown the deception and clouded vision it can place over children of God.
Conservative Christians are good people, friends I love, and it’s even a title I go by, but it is not whom I am. It isn’t who any of us are. As a Christian, you are a child of God the Father, and that should be the only label you allow this world to put upon you and allow to shape your actions. Let all that you do be done in love. We are the church, and we must start acting like it before it’s too late.