Stephen Mattson is the author of The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.
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The Spiritual Tyranny of ‘Religious Liberty’
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The Christian faith shouldn’t be defined by presidential orders and government mandates. Instead, it’s perfectly represented by the person of Jesus Christ, who told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as we would have done to us.
Why Is It Difficult to Get Christians to Care About the Earth?
As presidential orders and administrative policies continue to scale back environmental protections, it’s important for Christians to realize that this is a vitally important spiritual issue. Many Christians ignore environmental issues because they don’t view it as an important faith-related concern — but what if environmentalism was essential to evangelism? In many ways, taking care of our environment is a direct form of evangelism, but many Christians have yet to realize — and even reject — this truth.
Exploiting Scripture in the Name of Jesus
The problem for many Christians is that instead of asking themselves, “What would Jesus Do?” they ask, “What does the Bible say is permissible?” At first glance these two questions don’t seem radically different, but the applications are often contradictory to each other.
‘Ban Your Neighbor as I Have Banned You’
Christians who refuse to break rank from their political tribes and social circles at the expense of refugees, immigrants, the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the maligned, and the outcast are prioritizing carnal hopes rather than divine promises.
Dear Christians, Please Recuse Yourself
While the LGBTQ community, the pro-choice community, the liberal community, the environmentalist community, the science community, the atheist community, the Muslim community, and many other communities have been harshly and relentlessly judged, condemned, and even abused by the American church, this same church will remain silent toward Trump — refusing to condemn this idol it continues to worship.
The Sin of ‘Just Doing Our Job’
Any time a government enacts new legislation or a president signs an executive order, Christians must decide how it aligns with their ultimate mission, and choose to follow the example of Jesus accordingly.
We’re Not Anti-American. We’re Following Christ
The simple standard for Christianity is how well we’re emulating Christ. So how Christ-like are we? Right now, American Christianity isn’t doing so great, which is why non-Christians can be—and often are—even more Christ-like than many self-professed Christians.
For Christians Who Feel Betrayed By Christianity
Since the election of President Donald Trump, many Christians are asking: How could so many Christ-followers agree with actions that are so decisively un-Christlike? Many Christians are struggling to understand how two things that are diametrically opposed to one another — Trump’s policies versus following the gospel of Christ — can be possibly reconciled.
Christ, Not America, First
Instead of classifying people as refugees, immigrants, “illegal” immigrants, Muslims, Iranians, or whatever other association we use to judge people, God wants us to see humanity as fellow loved ones, children of God.
American ‘Christianity’ Has Failed
For the last few years Christians have been singing worship songs that include lyrics like “ keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise …” and yet have rejected refugees who’ve seen loved ones die beneath waves, who themselves have literally struggled to keep from drowning in oceans. Those American Christians — particularly white evangelicals — continue to sing the words: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders …” but fail to realize the shameful irony that they’re largely responsible for refusing shelter and opportunity to some of the world’s most helpless and oppressed people.
Have We Forgotten the Point of Christianity?
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?
What We Can Learn from the Best — and Worst — of Christianity
As we strive for social justice and attempt to love our neighbors, are we relying on Christ, or are we relying on the military, political leaders, the government, church authorities, institutions, and abusive ideologies?
Are we motivated and inspired by the love of Jesus, or are we driven by fear, judgment, hate, jealousy, envy, wealth, fame, recognition, and an appetite for power?
Is Gun Worship America's Achilles Heel?
Millions of Americans worship the gun. Guns are used in a state of sobriety and drunkenness, by the young and old, the rich and poor — regardless of race, age, gender, or demographic. Guns are sold, traded, gifted, stolen, and smuggled — but rarely destroyed. They are kept, reused, and invested in. Many increase in value over time.
They are adored and idolized for being able to wipe away someone’s existence in a matter of seconds — which is exactly what happens. No matter what the conflict, its existence is lurking in the background — close, handy, and accessible. A source of indisputable power.
This is why many Americans — and Christians — trust more in the gun than they do in Christianity. Jesus didn’t use weapons to kill others or as a method of getting his way. Instead, Christ’s nonviolent humble love for humanity caused him to get crucified on a cross. Very un-American.
Jesus Was a Protester
In today’s political climate we’re witnessing plenty of protesting — there is indeed much to protest. But some Christians, particularly in evangelical circles, believe protesting is sinful, that it’s only something that young, uneducated, unemployed, liberal fools do just for the sake of causing trouble.
Political Xenophobia: Back and Stronger Than Ever
There’s a name for xenophobic-motivated politics: nativism. Oxford Dictionaries defines nativism as: 1)The policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants, and 2) A return to or emphasis on traditional or local customs, in opposition to outside influences.
History Will Judge Today's Christians According to These 4 Questions
1. In the midst of a historically horrible refugee crisis, why didn’t you actively pursue helping the poor, the destitute, and those in desperate need?
Are followers of Jesus supposed to forsake compassion, sacrifice hospitality, and abandon love in favor of a political policy, national security, financial stability, and personal comfort? God is perfectly clear what the mandate is for helping those in need, and yet Christians continue to remain apathetic, passive, and even aggressively hostile toward the notion of aiding such victims.
'Making a Murderer:' The Justice System Non-White Americans Have Been Dealing with for Generations
Only in America can you have a huge segment of society become obsessed with a cultural sensation that revolves around the themes of unjust incarceration, a biased legal system, corrupt law enforcement, and a judicial process that disproportionately targets the poor and underrepresented, and simultaneously have the majority of this exact same group not understand the reality of racial injustice.
Rejecting Refugees, Rejecting Christ
Whether you like it or not, Christians are called to help the world’s most abused, hurt, helpless, exploited, and destitute.
If you’re a follower of Christ passionate about social justice, of if you attend a church that claims to be enthusiastic about global missions, or if you’re part of a Christian organization that facilitates ministry, you’ve been handed a golden opportunity — the ability to minister to millions of people in desperate need.
This is a chance to be radically countercultural — to glorify Christ through selfless sacrifice, hospitality, and love. Being a Christ-follower isn’t easy, and it will require hard work, but it’s worth it.
Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda
Christians do a disservice to the gospel message by removing the cultural context from Jesus’s ministry and watering down his message to one of religious platitudes. We like to generalize the words of Jesus and transform his life into a one-size-fits-all model that can apply to all of humanity.
Throughout the New Testament Jesus was more complex than we give him credit for.
He intentionally, purposefully, and passionately addressed very specific causes. He radically addressed the diverse and complicated conflicts of the time and shattered the status quo.
Jesus wasn’t just preaching a universal salvation message for the world, but he was also addressing specific political, social, and racial issues. He was helping those who were being abused, violated, and oppressed.
Our Social Commentary vs. the Gospel
Like many things — theological beliefs, worships styles, forms of baptism, and preferred interpretations of the Bible — Christians are divided when it comes to which social justice issues, culture wars, and current events are worth supporting and condemning or even talking about.
Followers of Christ can be against gay marriage or for it, Democrat or Republican, a pacifist or a soldier, a vegan or a meat-eater, an animal rights advocate or a hunter — Christians constantly contradict one another, and that’s OK.