There’s a religion whose savior was a refugee, yet it rejects refugees. Whose God embraces sojourners, yet it deports immigrants. Whose parishioners worship someone called the Prince of Peace, yet they defend violence and are pro-war. Whose hero was an ethnic minority, yet they’re complicit in white supremacy. Whose Christ was unlawfully arrested and killed by a governing empire, yet it has become nationalistic and oppressive. Whose ultimate model for behavior preached selfless sacrifice and lived humbly, but now its followers idolize political power and carnal wealth. There’s a popular type of “Christianity” that wants nothing to do with Christ other than to use His namesake to promote its own agendas.
There’s a popular type of “Christianity” that wants nothing to do with Christ other than to use His namesake to promote its own agendas.
This religion often calls itself “Christianity,” but its love for Jesus has been substituted by an obsession with obtaining political, social, and economic power. The fruits of the Holy Spirit have been replaced with xenophobia, bigotry, racism, hate, and fear. And the words and actions of Jesus have been weaponized into vague platitudes of “Christianity” which look and act nothing like the person of Christ.
The god of this Christianity isn’t Jesus but is a political ideology that worships power and control above all else. And this Christianity’s enemy isn’t Satan, but is anything and anyone deemed “liberal.” Instead of following the words and actions of Christ, Christianity has idolized leaders whose words and actions are contradictory to those of Jesus.
Jesus loves everyone. We know this because Christ instructed his followers “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12), and by stating, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40). The strength of your faith can be determined by how loving it is towards others. 1 John 4:8 says that “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
The strength of your faith can be determined by how loving it is towards others.
Christianity should be centered upon love, not on carnal power. Jesus loves Christian and non-Christians, Jesus also loves immigrants, “illegal” immigrants, refugees, and “foreigners,” Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and Communists. Jesus loves every person regardless of their race, religion, gender, or creed. Jesus died on the cross for all of humanity. But due in part to an obsessive political allegiance, loving others has become nearly impossible for too many Christians.
Instead of loving their neighbor as themselves, oppressive legislation has been a hallmark of some Christians’ religious practice: deporting immigrants, blocking refugees, limiting asylum, banning foreigners, prohibiting gay marriage, expanding massive incarceration, increasing global military operations, vilifying the poor, stripping environmental protections, widening voter suppression, and spewing widespread rhetoric that’s bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, ethnocentric, ignorant, and racist.
Where is love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control? Where is mercy, generosity, grace, or kindness reflected to anyone—and everyone?
The rise of a politically-centric “Christianity” reveals what happens when nationalistic and partisan ideologies are prioritized more than the love of Jesus. Evil often masquerades itself as faith, but you can identify this farce by the significant absence of Christ. Instead of centering itself on Jesus, it relies on political power, fear, and religious hyperbole, which quietly replaces the living person of Christ. Thus, when this Christianity is idolized, truly being like Jesus becomes demonized.
But being Christlike is more important than being Christian—Conservative Christian, or Liberal Christian, or any other “type” of Christian. Jesus is God incarnate, the perfect representation of holiness. Jesus, not any form of Christianity, is who we should strive to emulate.
God help us.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
~1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Stephen Mattson is the author of The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ.