The 45th President of the United States of America referred to the fulfillment of investigative and oversight duties by the 116th Congress of these same United States as a “lynching.” If you’re unfamiliar with lynching, it’s a term used to describe a mob killing someone (often by hanging) for an alleged offense, and usually without a legal trial. This country has a long history of actual lynching. A history that usually involves (smiling) white people watching a black man hang for an alleged crime tried (or not) outside of our legal system. A history that this President is aware of, because lynchings occurred well into his adult years. And he just invoked that history because he’s being investigated by the House of Representatives, through the vehicle prescribed in the very Constitution he’s sworn to protect and uphold.
This President is the President largely because of people who proudly proclaim the name of Jesus. Many people who’ve adopted the cross have also taken to wearing MAGA hats and t-shirts. Many people who carried out actual lynchings took to utilizing the (burning) cross as their symbol. There is an undeniably appalling correlation between white supremacy and the cross. This degrades the cross.
When I speak of “Reclaiming the Cross,” it sounds as though I’m speaking in the abstract. I am. But most of the feedback I got on the “Reclaiming the Cross” post asked the same question: how do we do it? That’s an important ask, and a question I don’ have all of the answers for. However, this is the internet, and since I presented the problem – I gotta offer a solution. Them’s the rules.
How to reclaim the Cross:
- Stop acting like your faith is a political ideology.
It is not. And trying to retrofit your beliefs to your political ideology is not the path to spiritual maturity. It’s the path to “isms” and discrimination. When we claim any political ideology or party as “the party of God,” what we’re *really* doing is saying that since we believe ourselves to be more godly than other people, whichever ideology we prefer must be God’s ideology.
First of all, God doesn’t have a political party/ideology. That’s dumb. He’s not a politician. Heaven is not a democracy. It’s not even a theocracy. It’s a monarchy. He’s not a free market capitalist, nor is He a Marxist. He is the Creator of the universe. To presume that any manmade government construct can mirror His heavenly Kingdom is a demonstration of foolishness.
Does this mean that Christians ought to sit out the political process and all political discussions? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It DOES mean that we should never use voting habits as a litmus test for belief in God. No, God did not choose any particular candidate. That’s not how democracy works, and that’s not how free will works. Does this mean that we should not allow our beliefs to influence our politics? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It DOES mean that we need to allow room for error in our thinking. Maybe we’re wrong about some stuff every now and then.
Maybe Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to dunk on “deplorables.” Maybe he didn’t die for us to call people “demoncrats” and call liberalism a “mental illness.” MAYBE when He said “render unto Caesar,” he was saying that He had bigger things to worry about than the affairs of an empire with an expiration date. Maybe we should stop trying to tie eternal significance to which super-rich person we are going to let live in a big ol’ slave built house for 4-8 years. Because when we do that, it makes people think that cross we claim isn’t that important. It makes the cross look like a tool for power.
Reclaiming the cross means that we stop lending it out for illegitimate uses.
Your faith IS a demonstration of that which you hope for and believe in. (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is an action, and not an ideology.
Reclaiming the Cross means that we look to Jesus’s sacrifice as our only hope, and not the actions of men, political parties, or tribes.
- Join, and actively participate in, a community of believers.
Yes, being part of a “church” community is important. I’m not going to tell you what that community needs to look like. If you and four friends want to get together on a regular basis and kick it at a bowling alley while you talk about the struggles you’ve been having as believers in a world that makes believing pretty hard sometimes, COOL! That counts! If you want to go to church every Sunday & Wednesday, then come back and clean it on Saturdays, AWESOME! That counts too!
I DO believe that pastoral oversight is essential. Not for control’s sake, but for the sake of covering. Not only will a qualified pastor be able to help you and your community work through questions and issues you may have, but they’ll be responsible for praying for you and keeping you plugged in to the right resources.
You CANNOT fight this fight alone. You need community. A community of believers who will celebrate your wins, coach up your losses, and check you when you are out of pocket. Even if you feel like believers are all the way out of pocket, maybe you’re God’s solution to that issue. Maybe God is looking for you to pull someone to the side and hit ’em with the “ay, bruh, you wildin’, and here’s why…”. That’s how you speak truth in love.
Is every community perfect? Nah. Is ANY community perfect? Lol, nope. But are YOU perfect? Let’s try and figure out this thing together.
Reclaiming the cross requires us to fight for and participate in the community formed by the cross.
- Focus more on our sins than the sins of others.
When people talk about the Church being full of hypocrites, they’re right. I mean, everywhere is full of hypocrites, but everywhere else ain’t exactly preaching salvation and righteousness.
Would you trust an orthodontist with a busted smile to fix your teeth?
How can we expect anyone to take us seriously when we preach about righteousness through Christ while we live raggedy? I’m not saying that perfection is a prerequisite for talking about your faith. I’m saying that I believe we’re being truer to Christ when we share how He’s working on our own sins than we are when we continually demand that the whole world fixes theirs.
There is a place to call other people out on their issues, and it’s not when we’re out in “the field.” That place is the community of believers.
Reclaiming the cross means that we focus on its power over our lives in order to show people its potential in theirs.
- Don’t be a jerk.
Sometimes, Christians are jerks. I’m guilty. I’ve been known to take place in a few too many Facebook/Twitter debates where my pride gets the best of me.
Don’t make Jesus look petty by being a jerk.
This is the same Jesus who was willing to endure the worst punishment imaginable to give you and me a shot at life. Maybe we shouldn’t be so obsessed with not getting bested in online forums?
Reclaiming the cross means we have to be humble.
This list is not exhaustive. These are just the opinions of one man who’s capable of being wrong from time to time. I just think it’s worth discussing.
What can YOU do to take back the Cross?