I’d like to address some bad theology. I don’t know how old this idea is that made me pause while reading a Tweet from Evangelical leader, Franklin Graham, last week, but I know I heard it quite a bit growing up and believed it:
Believing God can be taken out of anything is bad theology. This is why Paul asked the rhetorical question, “who can separate us from the love of God?”. While he lists death, angels and principalities as all being unable, I’m pretty sure government, institutions and policies also lack the ability. There are some other verses that come to mind:
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it…” Psalm 24:1
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” Job 42:2
Church, can you think of a single time when God has been thwarted by an evil government? Or by a ruler who has turned his back on Him? Even a casual reader of the Bible (or history) knows this is not the case. In fact, God, in his greatness (and I suspect also because of his sense of humor) often seems to work the most in those kinds of situation. Quite literally moving heaven and earth at times to save and love his people.
Now scripture does speak of God leaving us alone when we repeatedly reject him. God is OG, after all (and by OG I mean original gentleman). His perfect love cannot force us to him.
“If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” 2 Timothy 2:12b
The books of the prophets are full of God turning away because his people have rejected him. He gives his children what they want, letting them realize their need for him; but even in the midst of it he still sends the prophets, still sends a warning— reminders.
I think the better theology is not to say God has been taken out, but to say we have turned our backs on him. He’s not going anywhere, he can’t, but we have some serious repenting to do. Especially us, the church. We are so quick to yell out the speck in the eye of the liberal, the non-believer, the questioner, that we haven’t noticed our plank. I know it is a Christian cliché, but it is true.
Do the schools know us by our love?
Does the government?
Does the LGBTQIA community?
Does the Democrat?
There has been some suggestion that actually the idea of “taking God out of school and government” coincides with desegregation. It became the new battle cry for slave holder religion that in a civil rights world needed a cover for their sin of racism. It became a cloak for continuing to separate. Church, that is not the battle we want. Please, we must consider why we say the things we do, what the motivation really is…
Dearest Church, please stop saying God isn’t allowed. Maybe it’s really only our own ugliness and hate that is being rejected. We throw fits when verses are taken from school hallways, or a gay cake is asked for, or the Ten Commandments is removed from a courthouse. Not a whole lot of love in that. Not a whole lot of turning the other cheek. To not be easily offended means continuing to show love even when you’re rejected or when you feel like God is being thrown out. He can’t be and if you’re still there to shine a light, then he’s not going to turn his back either.
Franklin, in the above tweet, also admonishes Christians to vote, run for office and make a difference— and to that I wholeheartedly agree as long as our hearts are right before God. We don’t need any crusades, but we do need little Christs who are willing to go the extra mile to reach the poor and outcast, who will lay down their lives to prove God’s love. That’s the kind of love that flourishes, that can’t be snuffed out, that has survived since the beginning of time…that’s the kind of love the world needs now.