“In Christ there is no East or West
In him no South or North
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth. . . .
In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet North and South;
All Christly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.”
— William A. Dunkerley / John Oxenham (Cyber Hymnal)
I follow Fox News Radio columnist Todd Starnes, who is from Mississippi and lives in New York City. But I’m sick of his attempt to Christianize Dixie. The Bible belt doesn’t exist anymore. Unbelievers and communists have infiltrated our churches, political offices, and workplaces. The South was never holier than the rest of America anyway. I know some good people outside it – Brooklyn Tabernacle (New York), Calvary Church (Michigan), Moody Church (Illinois), etc. Todd Starnes, wake up and smell America!
Today’s American Christians prefer to be selfish isolationists. They’re so pro-USA that most churches give just 1% of tithes to global missions. Helping other countries in need seems to offend them. So is giving refuge to immigrants. I know, illegal is illegal. But the situations in Mexico, Africa, and the Middle East are so bad economically and otherwise that people are fleeing to us! Can we help them with necessities?
Exploring other cultures also offends some American Christians. Last week MovieGuide, founded by Dr. Ted Baehr, said that a good box office movie should “be Pro-American, patriotic, pro-liberty, anti-socialist, and pro-capitalist.” Huh? I try to learn about the world through foreign films and American films set in foreign places. I also think exalting one nation at the expense of another is anti-Christian. William Carey (1761-1834) studied world histories, cultures, languages, and religions on his own before he founded the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. Carey then became a missionary to India, translating the Bible into various languages. His global passion for the lost puts the 21st-century American church to shame. Maybe our nationalistic pride is the reason we have so little influence in our multicultural society.
I hate seeing American flags in church sanctuaries. We should remove them or display all the world’s flags instead. Jesus Christ wants a house of prayer for all nations and peoples (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17). Heaven will be filled with a “great multitude … of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9). I’m not a nationalistic patriot or flag waver, so heaven won’t be foreign to me! Do our churches reflect the global body of Christ, which we’ll see in heaven one day? Do we have an international spirit? I have more in common with a Christian in Syria than I do with an unbelieving American across town. Am I the only one?
God isn’t a nationalistic patriot or flag waver either. Heaven is his throne and earth is his footstool (Isaiah 66:1, Matthew 5:34-35, Acts 7:49). The kingdom of Jesus Christ “is not of this world” (John 18:36). No wonder he tells us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, NKJV; cf Matthew 28:19, Luke 24:47). No wonder Christ tells us to be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). God loves the world (John 3:16). Do we?
American Christians, wake up and smell the world! Let’s say ‘yes’ to the Holy Spirit, seek God’s kingdom, and stop the partisanship!
Denominations / Churches
“For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” — 1 Corinthians 3:4-7 (NKJV)
“Truth is more essential than unity, for true biblical unity (that pleases God) is always around His Truth. Unity is not a group of people under one roof; it is a group of people holding fast and confessing the same Truth. Unity becomes visible when Christians believe and obey the same Word of God.” — Pastor Paul Mizzi, Truth for Today
Too often we seek denominational unity at the cost of sound doctrine. Some denominations that were sound in the past have embraced heresy. “Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin” (Spurgeon). Others are really cults. One mark of a cult is a denomination or church that says it’s the only way to God. They want to convert people to their church rather than to Jesus Christ. This is one of my problems with the Roman Catholic Church, Mormons, and YWAM. The Pentecostal denomination I was reared in competes with others on the mission field. This cultism is the spirit of anti-Christ.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) separated his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, from the Baptist Union. He had fought the downgrade controversy of 1887, in which some Baptists said “no” to the doctrines of sola scriptura, the divine inspiration of the Bible, and substitutionary atonement. This conflict was a direct result of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, Higher Criticism, and liberal theology. After the separation Spurgeon asked himself, “Who will defend my Jesus?” It’s a good question. I don’t have any answers.
“The son of God goes forth to war
A kingly crown to gain
His blood-red banner streams afar
Who follows in his train?”
Worldly partisanships anger God, especially when made at the expense of a fellow Christian who studies at a rival school, plays on a rival team, speaks a different language, is of a different ethnicity, attends a different church, or lives in a nation at war with the United States. Exalting any ethnicity, gender, class, language, state, nation, educational institution, sports team, or church over another is the spirit of anti-Christ. Competition itself is the spirit of anti-Christ. The world acts this way. The church, the body of Christ, should not. Holiness, the lordship of Christ, and sound doctrine should divide us. All other divisions are worldly and unworthy of Christ.
Whenever Jesus Christ tests our loyalty to his name, his person, his Word, and his global church we usually falter. Yet we stick like superglue to worldly partisanships that don’t matter. Who will defend Jesus Christ? Who will preach “team Jesus”? Let’s stop the partisanship!