Coming Together?

Well, someone got me late last year.  I opened my email and there it was.  One of my friends forwarded an email with the subject USA Map.  Given the fact the presidential election was held a few weeks earlier, I expected one of those maps showing the country broken into red states and blue states with some dire warning concerning the future of the country.  This one was a little different.

It was a map of the U.S. with a story about a father whose daughter was disturbing him.   She was bothering him while he was reading.  He tore a map from the magazine he was reading, and tore it into pieces.  He gave the pieces to his daughter as a challenge and distraction.  She was to put it back together like a puzzle.  When she finished he would talk to her.  He thought it would take a good while to complete it, leaving him in peace.

To the father’s surprise his daughter returned very quickly.  When he asked how she put the map back together so quickly the girl replied, “…on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus.  When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, Then our country just came together.”  The message went on to say the email was worth forwarding “over and over,” and the country would come back together when Jesus was back where He belonged.

This little parable seems to be saying that the current problems in the United States are because Jesus has lost His rightful place in the United States. It also implies that putting Jesus back in His rightful place would heal the wounds and settle the conflict within the country.  This theme arose again shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

One would hope the person who originally came up with this story meant well.  If one looks beyond the bad parental behavior used to set up the scene, it seems like a cute little parable, if naïve.

The story appears to stem from the belief some have that Jesus was a peacemaker and someone who united others.  They seem to believe, that if Jesus were back in His rightful place and God were back in the classroom everything would be better.

George W. Bush claimed to be a uniter.  Jesus never made such a claim.  In fact, Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”(Matthew 10:34-36, NIV)

Jesus was also quoted as saying, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:51, NIV)

Anyone wanting an in-depth analysis of these verses should take the time to study the various commentaries on them.  For the purposes of this piece, this writer understands them to mean that Jesus and the Holy Bible do not bring peace to societies, cultures or nations.  The Old Testament is filled with conflict.  Conflict between those who followed Yahweh and the rest of the world, as well as conflicts within the Jewish nation itself.

The New Testament and Jesus created more conflict.  Conflict that has carried on to this very day.  When Jesus walked the earth, he divided the Jews, frightened the Romans and reached out to the Gentiles.  He converted the unclean and shunned the ones who claimed to be righteous.  His actions were divisive and rightfully so.  The conflict and divisiveness He brought to the world were the earthly causes of his crucifixion.  He knew when he started his ministry that He would divide the world between believers and non believers.

Jesus Christ’s life on earth and death on the cross were examples for the rest of mankind.  If one chooses to follow Him, one must do one’s best to emulate the life He led.  One must walk as closely in His path as humanly possible.  Unfortunately, the follower must do so knowing he or she will fall short of righteousness.

The other lesson of Christ’s life and death is that choosing to follow Him will not be easy.  Choosing to follow Him may lead to serious earthly consequences, up to and including death.  Followers of Christ, including disciples, were imprisoned, stoned and sacrificed in brutal ways.   Even today, in 2013, people are being killed because they believe Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior.

Christ never promised peace for a nation.  The idea that bringing the United States back to Christ, whatever that means, would fix the ills of this country is naïve at best and dangerous at worst.  In fact, one can make an argument that efforts to bring Jesus more squarely and openly into the political arena is one of the reasons for some of the division the nation faces today.

Christ did His best to make it clear he was not a threat to the government of that day.  Still, due to fear of many Jewish leaders of the time, the Romans were coerced into crucifying Christ for crimes He did not commit.  Christ could have prevented the crucifixion, but did not.  He understood and respected that government was not part of the Kingdom.  He also knew it was the instrument of His sacrifice and the tool used to bring salvation to His followers.

Many modern-day Christians seem to believe they know better than Jesus. They seem to think they can bring about or bring back a Christian nation politically.  They seem to feel that Christ needs to be sitting in Washington, if not in fact, then in spirit.

Christ’s rightful place is in the hearts of believers and in His churches.  This has been true throughout history.  The Bible does tell of a time when He will return to the earth in a more substantial fashion.  Even then, He will not be uniting.  He will be returning for the final battle with Satan.

Until that time, Christians are charged with spreading the Gospel.  Spreading the Gospel is not done by attempting to force others to believe or behave righteously.  Spreading the Gospel means spreading God’s Word.

Spreading the Gospel does not mean telling someone else how to live.  It does not mean judging others.  It does not mean spreading gossip about others, regardless of their beliefs.  It does not mean attempting to take control of others’ lives through the political process.

The story that triggered this piece implies Christ is not in His rightful place in the United States.  If that is true, it may be because some so-called Christians have attempted to force Christ upon others.  If He is not in His rightful place in the country it may be because some Christians have allowed pride, arrogance and judgment to harden their hearts.  They no longer hear His voice.  They only hear their own.

These Christians turned away from the Great Commission.  They replaced Christ’s values with their values.  They have become the new Pharisees.  As one who knows only too well how that is done, AnOldSinner prays they will see the error of their ways.  Otherwise, Christ will not be in His rightful place in much of this country for a long time.

©  S. E. Jackson-2013

About S. Eric Jackson

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