Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. - 1Peter 2: 11-12 (ESV)
One of the greatest idols the American church bows down to is America itself. It seems every other article on "Christian" websites these days is speaking about revival. Claiming a Christian heritage that is simply not there. Were the majority of the people who founded this country of Christian beliefs? Sure, so was most of the world at that point. But they slid along the scale of Christianity and many were in fact deists; who basically believed in God but not the God of the Bible. Thomas Jefferson rewrote the Bible to remove any indication of the deity of Jesus Christ. Many others were atheists. The entire premise that this was once a Christian nation is so fundamentally flawed I wonder if anyone ascribing to it ever took American History. I taught American History beloved and this is simply revisionist history. When were we a Christian nation? When we ran the slave trade? When we slaughtered the Native Americans? When we slaughtered each other in the Civil War? When we allowed children to work 20 hour days in sweatshops? That is all before the twentieth century and our decades as an imperialistic nation. That is before the modern age and the wars we remember. Then the advent of abortion. The continuing collapse of our morality. A church that has fallen away.
Now let me be clear. America is quite frankly the best human governmental experiment in history. No matter how flawed it is. It has still been a source of tremendous good. It is still the best hope for freedom in a world spinning out of control; even if we do too much of the spinning. But those are all carnal arguments. Do we understand that today beloved? These are carnal arguments. Not Christian ones. Do not mix the holy with the profane and claim Christ as your reason. Which brings us to the quote I read today that sparked this writing:
"Well, I'm no theologian, but I suspect Jesus would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant for dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire.'" - Todd Starnes, Charisma News
Now it appears this quote is in response to some tweets sent by Michael Moore over the weekend regarding the new movie, American Sniper. My intent is not to belabor those tweets for one reason. Michael Moore is unsaved. There is no point trying to have a spiritual conversation about someone who still considers the things of God as foolishness. It is interesting however that the unsaved are asking questions about the Jesus in the Gospels and the bloodlust many of His followers seem comfortable dealing in. People such as Todd Starnes. His quote here worries me. It saddens me. It almost overwhelms me. It is so staggeringly ignorant of the Gospel. You see, I have been through the Gospels many times and I do not recall the command to dispatch anyone to the lake of fire. I do recall one time when some of the disciples thought they were the hammer for Christ as Mr. Starnes seems to view himself:
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. - Luke 9: 51-56 (KJV)
Those godless Samaritans! Those godless jihadists! Like James and John, Todd Starnes knows not what manner of spirit he is of. He thinks it is a righteous spirit. He thinks it is a Christian spirit. It most certainly is not. Consider the excerpt from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible for this verse:
and said, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; or do not consider that this is not the true spirit of zeal, but of anger and revenge; and is not agreeable to the spirit of the meek and humble followers of Christ, or to the Spirit of God, and those gifts of his bestowed on them, nor to the spirit of the Gospel dispensation: so good men, for want of attention, may not know sometimes from what spirit they act; taking that for a good one, which is a very bad one; being covered with specious pretenses of love and zeal, and the examples of former saints; not observing the difference of persons; times, and things.
This is not a true spirit of zeal but one of anger and revenge. Todd Starnes is not espousing any form of godliness here. He is not even remotely close to anything biblical or representing Christ. He is spewing venom and hatred based upon the flawed belief that it is OK to worship this country. He has forgotten who we are supposed to be in this world:
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, - Philippians 3: 20 (ESV)
Our citizenship is in heaven beloved. Our key verses today remind us that we are merely sojourners and exiles in this country. Pilgrims walking through. But far too many these days are not walking through at all. We have set up camp in the world ruled by Satan and pretend we have claimed it for Christ. Others like Lot pitch their tents towards Sodom because we like our sin too much to walk away from it. The problem is that after pitching his tent towards Sodom, the next time we see Lot he is living in Sodom. We cannot pitch our tents towards sin and not expect to eventually be found living in it.
I am glad that Starnes opened this quote by admitting he is not a theologian but he should have stopped there. My fear after reading this quote is whether he understands the gospel at all. If he understands that phrases like "red blooded" and "American" have zero relevance when any of us stand before Christ. That we are not to pass the final judgment on people and celebrate when they die on the wrong side of the Gospel. That we are ambassadors for Christ not the United States. That God does not wish to see any perish - not even the people you hate Mr. Starnes. Not even the people your government teaches you to hate. The key verses teach us that we are supposed to keep our conduct amongst the Gentiles honorable. Not call down fire from heaven upon people walking in darkness. Not celebrate their eternal demise in the lake of fire on social media. Michael Moore might be wrong but that is a carnal debate not a Christian one. Do not bow down to the golden calf of America and think you are serving Christ. You know not what manner of spirit you are of when you do so. Pick up your tent oh pilgrim and walk away from Sodom. Do not walk in a spirit of wrath oh sojourner - leave room for God. These bloodlusts are nothing more than the same passions of the flesh mentioned in the key verses. They wage war against your soul. Put the sniper rifle down. Do not let them win.