Today I read a quote that bothered me on a lot of levels. I’ll just post the quote and then jump up on my soap box and await reply from my conservative, republican religious friends…
“If I were in charge,” Palin said Saturday during a Stand And Fight rally at Lucas Oil Stadium, “[our enemies] would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.”
So many issues to take with the above statement from the Tea Parties best loved spokes person. Lets pull it a part a bit at a time so that we can all be on the same page. I am looking at this statement through the eyes of a Christ follower who has friends who are Republican Christians and likely card carrying members of the Tea Party, and in some form of church leadership. I am wondering about the ability to support this individual with such tenacity in relation to the concepts set out by Jesus, you know the guy we are all supposed to be trying to be more like…
Issue 1. Our Enemies: This is one of the things that has been bothering me for years. Well this and other things. I think the thing that really bugs me is that Christians in our country have made the mistake of believing that there is a de facto state sponsored religion, and that religion is Christianity. They feel that any one who differs in what they believe or how they believe is automatically attempting to persecute them. But I digress the point to be made here is the idea of our enemies. Do we as christian’s want to be associated with an individual or organization that actively goes against a mandate given by Jesus, the person we claim to follow…
Matthew 5:43–45 (NLT)
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’* and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies!* Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
So lets see Jesus tells us we are to love our enemies, to pray for the people who do us wrong and that doing so will place us squarely in the middle of what God wants people who claim a relationship with him to do.
Issue 2. Baptism is an important aspect of a Christians life. Different traditions view it in different ways, some baptize infants, some don’t, some sprinkle, some dip, some immerse, no matter what the tradition it is an important mile stone in a person’s life, one that speaks to the world as a whole that this person is moving forward in a relationship with Christ. Equating water boarding with baptism should be viewed as an attack on what we believe and hold dear. Lets jump up a few verses in the same chapter in Matthew.
Matthew 5:38–39 (NLT)
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’* 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
Water boarding is not baptism and should never be equated with it, It is quite a sadistic practice that can cause pain, deep psychological issues and possible death. By contrast baptism is associated with new life in Christ. Big difference as far as I’m concerned and not a word I think should be bandied about by politicians seeking to make a connection with a religious base who has already drunk the tea…
Perhaps what bothers me the most is the way people have anointed the Tea Party as God’s Party. How they have backed the things said and espoused by this misguided group of individuals as from God. I read what people post on Facebook, I listen to their rants about religious freedom being under attack, about the sanctity of marriage being brought under fire. I see all of this and I don’t see Jesus in any of it.
How can Christians hope to do the thing that really matters, the thing that Jesus said to do as he was leaving earth, if they keep getting their priorities mixed up and spend all their energy fighting things that Jesus didn’t tell us to fight. If we would spend an eighth of the time we spend being against things and letting everyone know it actually treating people the way Jesus tells us to treat them, I’m guessing that the country would be a very different place, the world would be a different place, and I wouldn’t be nearly as embarrassed and feel the need to apologize for the things that so many religious leaders say.
When will we realize that we were not promised our best life now, that we are not living in the promised land, and that the freedoms we have are vast? When will we recognize that when God looks on humanity he doesn’t pick and choose who he loves or how he loves. When will injustice that happens to others no matter who they are what they look like, what they sound like, what they believe, and yes who they love, bring us to our knees to pray for that person, not for the thing that we may or may not like, not for the think that we may or may not agree with but for the person that is hurting and lost and dying because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus?
Jesus never turned a person into their sin. In fact just the opposite; 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,* so that we could be made right with God through Christ. Other translations read Christ became sin.
So why is this so important to me? My faith is something that I am constantly working on, constantly questioning, constantly poking and prodding to see what needs to change or what needs to be left alone. The last series I preached was all about the life of Christ, and studying that life in depth continually made me realize that the church as a whole has lost the point of it all. Go and make…that’s the point.