When I wrote the book Spirit of the Anti-Christ, I didn’t anticipate so many people proving my point on a daily basis. Just recently an actor (Antonio Sabato Jr.) spoke at a political function (Republican National Convention.) In his speech he said, “We had a Muslim president for 7 1/2 years, I don’t believe he is [a Christian].”
What Does it Mean – To Be A Christian?
Antonio, like many modern Christians today, raises a judgement on another and claims to know their faith. But what is it to be a Christian? What does it mean?
Quite simply being a Christian is observing and following the message of Jesus – Not the message of a political party – Not the message of a church – Not the message of Paul… but in the teachings of Jesus… That’s why we must know the theme that Jesus taught – without this knowledge people repeat the errors of others.
So what exactly did Jesus teach?
Don’t judge Others
In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus is quoted as saying:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Love Others, especially one’s Enemies
Again in the book of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is quoted on how to relate to those we may feel are our enemies:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. RSV
It is very difficult to be a true Christian. It is not an easy thing. Look at what is explained above… we are to leave the old ways of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” in favor of a new way of life… where we do not resist one who is evil but turn the other cheek. To give to those who beg and even love and pray for those who persecute us.
That means, if someone like Antonio Sabato Jr. feels Obama is an “enemy” of sorts or a “false Christian,” instead of judging him or talking ill of him before a large audience, as a Christian he should instead lead the audience in prayer for this one he is in disagreement with. In fact this is something omitted from the political Christians today… praying and loving their enemies. Where Jesus commanded it, the modern Christian instead shirks this compassion and chooses to lash out at the enemy.
The Youtube conservative Tomi Lahren has often spoken with glee about how we should send massive air strikes to Iran to teaching them a lesson – and then flipping the page, she tells how she is a Christian.
Where are the Christians? You will know them by their fruits, so it says in the Bible… and I don’t see the fruit of Christianity… where are these celebrity Christians who pray for their enemies… who pray for the radicalized terrorists, refugees, immigrants? After all they talk so much anger towards these, they are enemies and yet they do not pray for them. They do not show compassion – instead they demand vengeance and blood.
Do not worry for your own Life
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, Jesus explains that we shouldn’t worry for our lives here in this world:
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell;[a] yes, I tell you, fear him! RSV
This is key to following the path of Jesus – one must understand that this world is an illusion – we are already dead to it (as Christians) and must not attach to false ideas like “a country,” “physical possessions,” and the like. Instead we must realize our path is to live for what is beyond this temporary dwelling… to live for our eternal place.
Do not be concerned over money and Finances
The Gospel of Luke continues, addressing fear of being cared for in this world:
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. RSV
Matthew Chapter 6 also addresses this topic:
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[c] consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[d] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. RSV
Mark 12 also alludes to this and perhaps goes a bit deeper:
13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Hero′di-ans, to entrap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin,[a] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at him. RSV
What is being discussed is taxes, but this is perhaps more general in scope. The theme repeated in the teachings of Jesus, is that our true inheritance is not here in this world but in the heavenly Kingdom. I feel this is even more appropriate to state: Give to the world what is the worlds.
What is the world’s possessions? Things like greed, money, concern over immigration, concern over taxes, etc. This isn’t to say we condemn people who are worried, but we look upon ourselves and judge only ourselves… finding the mote in our eye… that worry, that fixation and attachment to the things of this earth and we hand it over (cut our attachments.)
Violence only leads to more Violence
Within Matthew 26 Jesus condemns a man for drawing a sword to defend His Lord… Jesus admonishes his disciple with:
52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
It is also written, “as you sow, so shall you reap.” Our actions return to us, this is why one can not simply kill their way to peace. Whatever peace that may appear to manifest after a war, is only short lived. True peace is not won with weapons of this world.
Give to the Needy & Let the stranger In
Matthew 25:31-46 is often referred to as the passage about separating the “sheep from the goats.” It is a story told by Jesus to His followers. In the story He tells of God returning to earth and dividing the world into two groups. The first group God says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” To which the people say, “Lord when where you hungry, thirsty or a stranger that we welcomed you in…” and he replies, “When you do it to the least of these my brethren, you do it unto me.”
Yet today so many a Christian demands we remove people seeking aid and comfort. I’ve seen Christians line up on the California border and yell at children seeking aid, “Return to Sender, we don’t want you here.”
The fearful cry about their safety if we let others into the country – but Jesus told us to maintain our course on:
- Trusting God to meet our needs
- Loving others and helping them in their needs
- Not worrying about those who can kill the body
The Narrow Gate of True Christianity
Yes, it’s hard being a true Christian – it’s not a path for the weak. The weak cringe at the shadows on the wall and scream, “Kill them, remove them, fight them…” Fear is the fetter of the modern church.
When my father was a pastor he believed that a time would come (end times) where the world (including the church) would be seduced into darkness. He thought it would come through a new religion… I think he was wrong… it has come through the Orthodoxy – by preying upon the weaknesses of the congregants (fears, worries, biases, bigotries) they have instructed and bred generation after generation to hate, despise and judge one another.
Being a true Christian is harder I believe, than anything. We tell people today in church that if one is being attacked it’s ok to kill the attacker. We hear churches defend war and even defend mass murder (such churches that rejoice in serial killings of gays.) Yet none of this is the teachings of Jesus. To follow such doctrines, one has to turn to the Old Testament scriptures – those very scriptures that Jesus corrected with His own illumination.
The Great Parable
Perhaps one of the greatest parables is that of the Good Samaritan. It is often misunderstood and has lost much of it’s impact these days.
The story starts in Luke chapter 10. In this passage a lawyer asks Jesus what is needed for “Eternal Life.” Jesus asks him what it says in the scripture. The man replies, “to love God with your whole heart… and your neighbor as yourself.” The question arises though: what is a neighbor?
Jesus answers this with a story:
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
What is lost in most understanding’s of this passage is the nature of a Samaritan. Jewish people and Samaritans were at odds with each other for hundreds of years. It was a culture clash. Many at that time, with Jesus, looked down upon Samaritans and saw them as dirty or lower class.
Today a better example might be between Donald Trump (as the rich man) and an illegal immigrant (as the Samaritan.) Imagine the likes of Donald Trump robbed and left for dead beside the road. Imagine just as in this story that everyone ignores his cries for help, except for an illegal immigrant. That’s the meat of the story. For such a rich man, the illegal immigrant he looked so down upon becomes his true neighbor – helping him.
Also consider though that the neighbor of the illegal immigrant would be the Donald Trump figure. How so? Well he saw in the tyrant, in the bigot, in the angry man something to care for and love.
As we are called to love our enemies, it goes both ways. If you see the likes of Donald Trump as your enemy, pray for them. Love them. Don’t expect anything, but give everything of value (prayer and love.)
These words I wrote, and those I quote, are lost on most. As one must have spiritual “ears,” to hear. Most are lost to their own egos. They pander to their own desires. They come up with tapestries of illusion to defend their need for war, border walls, anger, judgement and hatred.
I can’t break those barriers for others… each of us is here to find our own way – but we can recognize the deficiencies in ourselves and work on ourselves… when we meet the “enemy” in others, we can pray for them and love them. They are here for our own growth, to learn patience in the face of adversity.