the American Jesus

At Ada Bible Church where we’ve been taking our granddaughter for their children’s teaching program, Jeff Manion in part four of a series on the book of Colossians talked about the pure Jesus as taught in scripture as opposed to the Jesus many people have adopted. The message, by the way, is well worth the listen, one might entitle it, “Beware of the Blender.”

Along with America, or patriotism, Manion included materialism, and self (individualism). Of course the Colossian heresy was different, although having some correlation to our times, but dealing with different manifestations and problems. The question becomes, what do we mix with Jesus, with the gospel, which in the end is not Jesus or the gospel at all, but a human and perhaps even demonic concoction.

Jeff mentioned how being a good citizen of the United States is good, and he didn’t oppose patriotism, or love of country, love of America. But he was getting at how we mix Jesus and the gospel with America, or patriotism. This has played out in many ways. For example Jeff spoke of a couple of Iranian pastors he met, and how he had to break the news to them that to fully be Christian they would need to become American. All kidding aside, that was a problem with missions in the past. This is simply a manifestation of the core issue of the union of church and state, or the gospel with anything else, and how the gospel can be and often is sullied and compromised in the process.

Maybe an especially egregious aspect of this is at the fore, front and center before us during this presidential election, hence the timeliness of this point and series. I am thinking of how Christians go at it even against other Christians both from the “left” and “right”. It’s bad enough, and in some respects worse, depending how you look at it, when a Christian goes after a non-Christian with a kind of battering ram approach. I am thinking, what are we thinking? And what “battle” are we fighting?

Of course we pray for the good of this nation, and hope for its best. But we must take care lest we lose Jesus and the gospel, and consequently ourselves during this especially divisive time in our society. Instead we need for ourselves and for our witness the true Jesus and the true gospel. We need to work against the many ways the gospel can be compromised or even lost. There is one good news, and nothing else is good news in comparison to that. Through the one Lord, Jesus. Something we need to hold on to all the more, when the world insists on something less.

 

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