AWOL from the Christian Culture War.

“Let them vote ‘no’ to this ordinance, and ‘yes’ to the reign of the kingdom of God,” Pastor Charles Flowers said at the rally. He said this right before joining the crowd in booing Eric Alva, an openly gay Marine staff sergeant who became the first U.S. soldier injured in Iraq when he stepped on a landmine, spoke in favor of an ordinance that would protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at a San Antonio City Council meeting on Wednesday night.

Sigh. I find the culture war exhausting, distasteful and confusing. I am overcome with the cloud of war and have become convinced that the people who sit in the Christian War Room drawing up plans and maps are fighting for the wrong causes for all the wrong reasons.

So, as of today, I am going AWOL. I am out of here. I am trading in my faith fatigues for flowers and my Bible bombs for hugs.

In reality, I actually defected in my heart a long time ago, and have expressed my dissent and disagreement with the Christian Culture War Machine long and loud on many an occasion. The difference today is that I am declaring my independence and leaving the ranks.

I mean why do people who claim to follow Christ want to fight a war that Jesus never asked them to fight?

In Jesus’ day many people were looking for the Messiah to come in and politically and militarily take over and set up a physical kingdom right then. Many people were actually quite disappointed to find out that Jesus was not interested in removing Caesar or even the Sanhedrin from power. Almost as disappointed perhaps as some might be to learn that Jesus has no interest in impeaching President Obama.

Jesus was also faced with a woman caught in the act of adultery (an offence according to Jewish law that had very specific and dire consequences) he did not stand on the side of the powers that would have chosen to see this woman stoned to death. He stood on the side of the woman and extended radical grace to her. The men who accused her were testing Jesus to see if he would uphold the law. He did not. Do you think there would be the same level of disappointment  on the faces of people today when Jesus stands by the side of a woman who chooses abortion and extends radical grace to her?

When people were upset by the company Jesus kept and the parties he attended, when they called him a drunk and a sinner, he didn’t stop to please them. He didn’t cut them off either. He simply continued to be who he was and let people make their own decisions about him. I try to apply this principle on Facebook when people disagree with me. I have yet to sever ties with friends who disagree with me, I continue on being who I believe he calls me to be and allow people the freedom to choose to sever ties or stay friends. I always hope for the latter.

Jesus, though he was able to call down the power of heaven to free himself from the cross, instead chose to absorb the hate and give back forgiveness. I am afraid there were people there who were disappointed that he did not call down the fire and wipe out “the enemies”. Even people who had lived with him and had heard his teachings. How often are God‘s foot soldiers caught up in forcing people to conform to what they believe by passing laws which do nothing to change people’s hearts?

*side note: This isn’t just happening here at home. American Christians are also instrumental in influencing laws in other countries. A prime example of this can be found in Uganda’s Anti-gay Legislation, which you can read about here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/world/africa/04uganda.html?_r=0

As far as I can tell, Jesus was/is on the side of the lepers, the women, the overlooked, the underestimated, the ones who drink too much, say too much, feel to much. He also was/is on the side of the privileged, the zealot, the religious, the goody-two-shoes and the ones who are just too tired to go on. He loves us all. His kingdom is a kingdom of peace. His law is a law of love. His righteousness is a free gift that is neither bought nor earned by any of us.

My allegiance is to this king and this kingdom. Not to some misguided war machine that is dedicated to fighting against the people they were sent to love. Too often they have used Jesus himself as a weapon and his words to wound instead of heal.

The very people Jesus intends to be the Red Cross to a dying and imprisoned world; who he sends to deliver the good news that their imprisonment is over and that God is not holding their sins against them; instead point to the bars and make sure the prisoners knew their captivity is their own damn fault.

Here is the commission I believe Jesus offers and I gladly accept: Ambassador of the God who came near. I will willing and joyfully serve as the Minister of Reconciliation for the one who took all the wrath that humans could dish out and said, I choose love.

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