Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. -Philippians 2:1-4
The other day while in my car, some “older” worship songs from the later ’90s or early 2000s came on. Songs such as “Be Glorified” and “Heart of Worship.” I am not one for nostalgia, but what captured my spirit and grieved my heart was a tone or spirit of humility in those songs of another age that I think we have completely lost in much of current American Christianity.
I do not know about you, but all I hear today is outrage. All I see are Christians who claim to possess the hope of eternal life, completely unhinged, obsessed with earthly politics, their own rights, and propagating fear. I see very little of Christ. I see very few representing well the message the Apostle Paul said we have been given of reconciliation and healing of relationship with God and one another (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Instead, we argue, fight, and only care about airing our political opinions and views. I see little of even attempting to be peacemakers fighting to restore relationships (Matthew 5:9). Instead, we are widening the divide even over things like face masks. We judge and condemn and divide over non-essentials (Romans 14). We demonstrate so little kindness, compassion, or gracious tolerance of others. And I see so little of that which Jesus called us to in forgiving our enemies, loving even our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, and praying for those we perceive as our enemies (Matthew 5:38-48). Instead, we attack, spew anger, and curse others.
We have elevated lesser earthly values above more important kingdom values such as mercy, justice, grace, forgiveness, and love (Matthew 24). We have lost the spirit of Jesus who came not demanding his rights; but laying down his very life and “rights” for our sake and salvation (Philippians 2:5-11). I think we have become disconnected and disoriented from our primary passion for Christ and his eternal kingdom. I believe we have lost perspective and lost our way because it is not about us, it is about God being glorified in our lives. It is not about our rights above all or above the good or consideration of others. Our disproportionate passion for patriotism is destroying our witness, or at least has become of more importance than our representing Christ and his character to a broken world.
I want to get back to the heart of worship. I want to see only Jesus. I want to desire him above anything else and regardless of the cost. I want to live as we are called to in Micah 6:8 to, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. I want to represent Christ well and be a bearer of Good News, reconciliation, restoration, healing, and salvation. I want to reflect his character and see his character revealed in and through my life. I want to hold what he values most as what I value most. I want to be a witness, regardless of the consequences. I want my confidence and trust to be in him and the inheritance he has promised, the future he has planned, the new heaven and new earth he will create, and the kingdom he has given to those called and loved by him. A kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Here is the truth: I am discouraged and disillusioned by American Christianity. We have lost our way. We have lost our humility. We are not showing the world Jesus.
‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’ –Mahatma Gandhi
“The world will be a different place when North American Christians follow the Jesus they talk about” -Daoud Nasser