I was aghast at the violation of our Capitol building by insurrectionist on January 6th. I have been perplexed that so many Americans, seemingly unquestionably, embraced the lies that encouraged the attack and even hoped for martial law to be imposed to prevent the peaceful transition of power on January 20th. It was almost inconceivable that people would hold to unsubstantiated claims after about sixty courts and eighty judges (many of whom were Republican appointees – including those appointed by Donald Trump), along with many members of the Trump administration, and even government officials who were Trump loyalist in swing states, had all determined that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. My heart was broken as those who attacked the Capitol thought it appropriate to pray in the name of Jesus as they disrespected the Senate chamber, unapologetic about the waving of Confederate flags, erecting of a gallows with a noose hanging from it, and a call to execute the then Vice-President with the chant, “Hang Mike Pence!”
This all occurred after the encouragement, and to the delight, of a president who had received “cover” and “support” from many Christian leaders. They excused his misogyny, racism, divisiveness, and lack of integrity. In the hope of gaining some of the change he promised, they sold themselves to defend his lack of true leadership, repudiation of democratic ideals, and even his antinomianism and self-idolization. What is even more distressing is that, for many of these church leaders, there is no repentance or shame over this, even after lives were lost due to the insurrection. This misguided view of Christianity recalls to mind the words of the great 19th century preacher and abolitionist, the Rev. Frederick Douglas, who said,
“…for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.”
Christians are called to view all things through the lens of scripture, rightly interpreted and applied. In the light of scripture, while both of the major political parties get a few things right, neither political party stands well. One supported a president that separated children from their parents and placed them in cages… values corporate profits over the health of the environment… and shows little compassion for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). The other supports and funds the slaughter of unborn innocents, giving more value to their mothers’ presumed right to “choose” than to helpless human lives… and, yet, is hostile to the right to live according to religious conviction if that belief does not conform to the views of the extreme left. Hypocrisy, the “leaven of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1), is evident in both parties.
It is misguided to expect holiness from our secular government, which often – if not typically - expresses, at best, a syncretistic spiritualism of political convenience and, at worst, an atheistic hostility to the truth of Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are reminded that our Lord said, “My kingdom is not of this world… my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). However, we must demand civility, reason, integrity, and compassion from our secular government.
I do believe that President Biden is a man of integrity, humility, and empathy. His gracious inaugural speech reflected his career of service to our nation and his reputation of speaking from the heart. It was refreshing to hear words that reflected the best of aspirations instead of the worst.
However, no matter who is in leadership of our country, the church must remember that its role, in regard to government, is to be a prophetic voice, pointing to what is righteous, and always remembering that our allegiance is not to a political party or to a politician… but to the Kingdom of Heaven and to King Jesus. It is our role to reflect the Kingdom as we act as good citizens of this country. To this end, I offer a prayer to our Lord…
Oh Lord and Savior, we Your people praise You and worship You. You are our God and King, in whom we trust. Forgive us our sins as we look to You in repentant faith. Grant us strength to live for You each and every day. As new leaders have taken charge of our nation’s government, we pray your blessing upon them. Grant President Biden and Vice-President Harris wisdom, humility, and reverence for Your Holy Word and perfect will. When they follow You, strengthen them. When they stray from You, correct their ways. Let there be civility, reason, integrity and compassion among our leaders and among the citizens of this nation. Let Your people, who are called by Your Name, speak the truth in love and in unity that the world may see You working in us. Bring healing to our country and our world and give Your church a holy boldness to proclaim Your Gospel to all. To Your glory, O Christ, we pray. Amen.
Rev. Dr. J.R. Norwood, “Trusting in the Name” - Psalm 20:6–8
Preached at Ujima Village Christian Church on November 8, 2020