By Stephen Mattson 10-13-2016

Followers of Jesus — especially those living in the United States right now — must ask themselves an important question: What’s the point of Christianity?

Because in the big scheme of things, is the purpose of having a Christian faith primarily for gaining political power, or creating and enforcing laws, or hoarding wealth, or living as comfortable a life as possible?

Or is it ultimately about bettering — and saving — humanity?

The past year has seen Christian theologians, authors, pastors, celebrities, institutions, organizations, and communities publicly declare many things — all under the banner of “Christianity” — about what is politically right and wrong, who is good and bad, and how we should vote, act, and think as it relates to our political leaders. It forces believers to prioritize the role Jesus plays in their lives.

Because the reality is that the good news of the gospel cannot be heard and accepted unless we emulate Jesus. The Bible shows us that Jesus is the best example of who to follow, so why aren’t Christians doing so?

What’s the point of Christianity if during a historic refugee crisis, Christians refuse to protect, accept, and help refugees?

What’s the point of Christianity if believers actively oppose immigrants from pursuing a better life, and promote humans beings that are created in the image of God to be detained, separated from their families, arrested, and sent back to impoverished and violent conditions?

What’s the point of Christianity if people who worship the Prince of Peace also vigorously support policies that vilify entire people groups, actively seek death, and kill tens of thousands of people each year?

What’s the point of Christianity if people who pray to the King of Kings also seek wealth and privilege at the expense of the oppressed through corrupt systems that maintain and promote systemic financial, educational, and racial injustice?

What’s the point of Christianity if people who worship a Jewish Messiah from the Middle East also discriminate and legislate against people who have different religious, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds?

What’s the point of Christianity if Christians — who celebrate a man who was crucified on a cross by an authoritarian government partly for being an ethnic minority — refuse to stand up and defend the rights of those facing persecution because of their skin color, ethnic background, gender, or political beliefs?

What’s the point of Christianity if you celebrate God as the creator of the world while subsequently destroying the environment and participating in wasteful consumer-centric practices?

What’s the point of Christianity if you would rather seek political power than trust in an all-powerful God?

What’s the point of Christianity if you prefer self-preservation over self-sacrifice?

God is not glorified by preventing refugees from receiving a life-giving avenue of escape.
And God is not glorified by deporting immigrants.
And God is not glorified by xenophobia.
And God is not glorified by sexism.
And God is not glorified by systemic racism.
And God is not glorified by rejecting the maligned.
And God is not glorified by fear, hate, shame, and pride.

How can salvation be believed when we refuse to save refugees, or hope grasped when we deny it to immigrants, or justice pursued when we refuse it to the oppressed, or faith accepted when we don’t have faith in those different from us, or love known when we deny it to our neighbors, strangers, and even our enemies?

When we look at Christ’s crucifixion — the defining moment of Christianity — from a practical standpoint, was it financially beneficial for Jesus? No.

Did it provide Jesus and his followers with additional political power? No.

Did it provide them with additional military strength? No.

Did it provide them with additional safety, or raise their social status, or improve their standard of living? No. In fact, it did the opposite, and most of his closest disciples and followers would eventually become brutally persecuted and martyred.

As a Christian, helping humanity — specifically those who are exploited, destitute, and struggling to survive — isn’t contingent upon whether it’s safe, fiscally beneficial, comfortable, or even by what society might consider to be in its “best interest.”

In fact, the interests of Jesus are usually the exact opposite of mainstream culture.

A Jesus-centered Christianity is illogical in that is requires inordinate amounts of self-sacrificial love — to the point of being absurd:absurdly gracious, hospitable, kind, patient, peaceful, self-controlled, and giving. And doing all of this — following Jesus — is hard.

Humbly serving others, defending the powerless, fighting for the oppressed, and radically loving the world around you isn’t for the faint of heart, and it rarely results in the prizes our society so ardently adores — fame, fortune, influence, and power — which might also explain why so many Christians choose to trust, and follow, and put their hope in so many other things besides Jesus.

So when we’re confronted with national questions regarding refugees, immigrants, racism, national security, the economy, and social justice issues, we must remind ourselves of the old adage: “What Would Jesus Do?” because we already know what he did, and it’s our responsibility to do the exact same thing. God help us.

Stephen Mattson is a writer who currently resides in the Twin Cities, Minn. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.

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