Zande dropped off a good article called “Evangelical Christianity’s Brand Is Used Up” and it speaks to many things that have been on my mind for the past few years. Christianity as a brand, as marketing, as politics, as this cult like movement called family values, the moral majority, where it is all about being a member of an exclusive club, religion not relationship.
I grew up outside the church, I don’t know this kind of commercialized Christianity, my faith does not come from culture, upbringing, or churchianity. My faith comes from collapsing in hysterics at the foot of a King and being seen, heard, answered, blessed with His fragrance, His presence, His leadership. Let me tell you, there is no doubt in my mind that God is real and that Jesus Christ transforms lives. I could write volumes about the goodness of God, about what a gentleman He is, about His kindness and mercy, about how He desires to have a personal relationship with each one of us.
This article speaks some harsh truths, something I went digging into a few years back myself, curious about this disconnect I was feeling, this separation from “The Brand.” The article says, “The religious right in America has always been a political philosophy based on bullying, pandering, projecting strength to hide fear and weakness, and proud, aggressive ignorance.” Yes, I’ve bumped into some of that. I’ve suffered some of that! The religious right, not as servants of The King but precisely as this article portrays us, “Evangelical means obsessed with sex, Evangelical means arrogant, Evangelical means fearful and bigoted, Evangelical means indifferent to truth, Evangelical means gullible and greedy….”
A-yep, on the outside looking in, that is precisely what “evangelical” looks like as a brand, which than begs the question, what the heck are people thinking trying to convert Jesus Christ into a marketing/political brand in the first place??
The article goes on to say, “The Evangelical brand is toxic because of the stagnant priorities and behaviors of Evangelicals themselves.” Yes! We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. By their fruits you shall know them. There’s some rotten fruit out there! My excursions into the alt-right of the internet, into the red pills, have frequently lead me to my knees in complete despair. You people have no Christ in your Christianity! What the heck are you doing?? You have “The Brand,” but you sure don’t have The Brander. You have put on the armor of Christ, but not His mercy, and as a result, you are all a bunch of empty suits with no authority. Jesus Christ could show up in person and kick you in the behind and you wouldn’t recognize Him.
Those are harsh words to speak over people, but I’ve earned the right, I have the scars to prove it, and I speak with full authority, His authority. If you don’t get the message of the cross, you are nothing but an empty brand, a box of overpriced sugary cereal with no nutritional value that you just bought because you think there’s a prize in the box. You’re a fool paying for packaging and pretty colors on the box, consoling yourself with a 3 cent toy made in China. Selling Jesus Christ short doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The second thing I do every single day is pray that we don’t get what we deserve as a country, as a church, as the Body of Christ. I pray for mercy, I pray for Divine intervention, I pray that God wakes us from our stupor gently. I pray not as someone on the outside looking in, but I pray on behalf of those Lost Boys and Shaming Women, as if I really were my brother’s keeper, as if I bear full responsibility for letting things get this bad. That is Kingdom Authority.
We are the church. I am the church. The church however, is also full of arrogant bullies, sexual perversion extraodinaire, and we have to gall to then point fingers at feminists, at homosexuals, at leftists, at all those “bad” people not of our exclusive club, as if we can offer forth some kind of plea bargain. “Lord, look over there at those people, we have found the sinners!” Baloney! We’re a bunch of hypocrites and people know it.
Evangelicals are the largest consumers of porn in the country. Like anything else, there can be forgiveness there, healing, freedom from bondage, but you don’t get to speak to me about the horrors of homosexuality while eroticizing women being tortured, while covering up child abuse, while engaging in outright racism. You lost the moral upper hand because you aren’t serving the Moral Upper Hand.
A victory built on sand is nothing more than a short lived illusion, a vanity, just chaffs of wheat blowing in the wind.
I am self righteously angry, morally indignant, because an atheist is right, because a fem from Seattle is right, because “evangelical” as a brand is sour milk, salt with no flavor, a kingdom without a King, and without God’s intervention and mercy we will reap the whirlwind of our own confusion and chaos. We are reaping the whirlwind.
Let me share the good news however, Jesus Christ still reigns victorious, seated at the right hand of the Father. The salt of the Earth is alive and well too, a bit torn and tattered, but thriving even. The Body of Christ has a powerful pulse and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, not because of who we are, but because He said so.
I am an evangelical Christian, a fundamentalist even, a label, not a brand, a label I refuse to let go of, choosing not to take the easy way out, not to start calling myself a “Gospel Christian” like the article suggests, as if I can just separate myself from my bothers and sisters who are “doing it all wrong,” so now my hands are clean. Oh no, it doesn’t work that way, God doesn’t hand out extra credit points for such things, He flat our calls us to preserve the unity, and to love them anyway.
I do! I love them anyway. I empathize with the arrogant, the lost, the bullies, the porn addicted, even the bigots, because we are the church and Jesus Christ gave His life for such as these. Many of them make me angry, I’d sure like to bounce a few teacups off their heads, but that really is the nature of love! If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t bother, I’d simply wash my hands and walk away.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage…”
–Henry V, Act III Scene 1, Shakespeare