First off, I don’t really intend this to be political post, it’s just that The Donald popped up in this article, “I have a great relationship with God” and summarized the entire nature of the problem so perfectly.
He says he has a great relationship with God and proceeds to explain,“I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think. I’m talking about over the last number of years, I’m leading a very good life. I try to lead a good life and I have.”
I call that cultural Christianity. Well actually in Trump’s case, I call that slick and masterful marketing. I can laugh about how politics are all about making bovine poo taste good, but the underlying truth and reality of the prevalence of cultural Christianity distresses me and keeps me awake at night.
What is totally missing in Trump’s declaration is the message of the cross. What is missing in so many people’s concept of faith is the message of the cross. Heck, what is missing in many fancy TV preacher’s version of faith.….is the message of the cross.
The message of the cross is everything. It is the basic, fundamental, first step from which proceeds All Things. It is the cornerstone, the foundation, the very heart of Christianity. The cross is The Gospel. What is The Gospel? “A gospel is an account describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Without Jesus Christ and the work He did on the cross, there is no Christ in our Christ-ianity. We are just an -anity or perhaps -ians.
The cross is everything. The cross is what unites us. That is where our spiritual journey begins. The cross is the whole story. To not begin repentant, convicted, aware of sin, in need of redemption, is to not even be aware of why one might need a Savior in the first place. Faith without a Savior is not faith at all. It is more like just free falling through the universe.
I must admit I’m at a loss for words today because I’m rather surprised to look about and realize there are a whole lot of people who seem to not be aware of the message of the cross. I don’t mean to sound snarky here, but the very symbol of our faith is…..the cross! It’s almost like it was put there just to remind us.
The cross is actually not a beautiful piece of jewelry or an elegant bit of stained glass, it was an instrument of torture and execution. It was a bloody, nasty, horrific symbol of misery and death. The very fact that the cross existed should give people some idea as to the sinful nature of man. The vast majority of our history has involved coming up with new and inventive ways to torture and kill one another.
The Great Commission, what we are called to do, can be found in Mark 16:15 and says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.“ What is the gospel? “an account describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” We could go to Matthew 28:19 and find the same concept, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..” What are we to teach? the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why are we to teach it? Because it is good news, because Jesus Christ has provided us a way to have victory over sin, to become the people He created us to be, to be reconciled with our Creator.
Back to The Donald however, it’s a news article so it should be taken with a grain of salt. But this article, combined with other words Trump has spoken about being a Christian, just not one who feels the need for repentance or who believes we need to be forgiven for our “alleged” sins, pretty much sums up the nature of the issue. I have heard those same words repeated either in word and deed all over the place.
It really doesn’t matter if you are left or right or liberal or conservative, those who seem to have missed the entire message of the cross become very obvious to me. There are some who are very harsh and judgmental, who have no mercy for others, likely because they have never received mercy themselves. Still others are so open minded and tolerant their brains have done fallen out, and they are often so shame based, they have obviously never met redemption either.
Everybody serves a purpose in God’s kingdom. There are all kinds of different personalities and skill sets. Faith is also a process, everybody must walk their own path, so what challenges one may face, may not be a challenge for another. God works on everybody in different ways, one person’s strengths are another’s weaknesses. What unifies us all however, is the Who, What, and Why of what happened on the cross. Without that recognition of who He is and who we are in Him, we just have this disjointed, 3 legged stool of chaos.
Donald does what so many of us do, “it would benefit me to align myself with the cultural narrative of Christianity so as appeal to the largest number of people.” That however is politics, not faith. He goes on to declare he’s good with God and lives a good life. He’s a multi millionaire! How challenging can it be to live the good life? Arrgg…Trump may well be a good person, but again, that misses the entire message of the cross. We cannot earn our own Salvation by living a good life, by being a good person.
Those words, “I have a great relationship with God,” are true of me too. God has been very good to me and I seek His favor, I seek to be pleasing to Him. However, I am incapable of being Holy, perfect, and if I must give an account of all the missed opportunities, unintended consequences, and deliberate acts of defiance, I must point towards Jesus Christ. Who am I? I am the love and mercy He poured out, I am sheltered in the sacrifice He made. As one wise woman recently quipped, “I am hiding within His coat tails, hoping to be smuggled through the door.”
Political candidates are one thing, I cannot help anyone there, nor do I intend to criticize anyone who is busy enjoying the antics of The Donald, I am just saying there is an important lesson lurking in here about faith, one that often seems to be slipping away in the world today.
Without the message of the cross, one’s faith either has no teeth or it is nothing but teeth, but either way, it has no substance and just floats through ones fingers like chaffs of wheat….