Christians Entangled in a Political War

This political season has exposed the loss of direction the church has been struggling with for years. Divide and conquer has always been a tactic of the devil. Even Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I can remember the Moral Majority movement in the 1980s, where there was a campaign to get a republican presidency, congress, and senate. The claim was that if the republicans were in charge, they would turn America around. For a short time, they succeeded, but America’s morality did not change, and the problems that faced the nation continued. Since then, there have been times when the democratic party has been in charge of all three, and the republicans in all three. This is the normal struggle of power, but there has been a shift in mindset that is very destructive in recent years.

During elections, mud slinging is the norm, but in the past, the nation united under whichever leadership took office. However, in the last 20 years people are divided to the point where they say, “Not my president,” if their party wasn’t elected. After Trump got into office, people were getting assaulted if they wore anything that was associated with the president.

Instead of being a light to the culture, the people in the church have drawn battle lines and are divided. Social media is filled with Christians calling other Christians evil because they don’t share the same political beliefs.

Both sides have blinded themselves to the problems on their own side, and refuse to acknowledge the good in the other side. It has become “My side is all good, and your side is all evil.” When the truth is that politicians use people to push their agendas. One side is focused on correcting social injustice, while the other side is focused on individual rights. Both sides are willing to step on the other side to push the agendas they feel are right, while being completely blind to the issues outside of their agenda.

Instead of addressing the concerns of either side, it’s easier to label opposition as evil or ignorant.

But there is a greater concern. The church has lost direction and is joining the political war of the culture instead of being ambassadors to influence the culture. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us to be ambassadors for Christ to plead with the culture to be reconciled with God. 2 Timothy 2:4 says:

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life.

We have lost focus on the spiritual warfare and have entangled ourselves in the political warfare of this life. As Christians, our agenda is not to push a political party, nor is it to stamp out those in opposing parties. Once we escaped the world through Christ, we moved our citizenship to heaven (Philippians 3:20).

We see a great example in Jesus. In order to discredit Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees decided to tempt him. The hot political issue of the day was Rome taxing the people of Israel. It was so divisive, that anyone who was hired to collect taxes was considered the worst of all sinners. If they could get Jesus to commit to one side or the other, it would cause division among the people, so they asked him, “Teacher, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

It was a crafty question. If Jesus was critical of the tax, He would be a threat against Rome. If He said to pay taxes, He would offend many people. Instead, Jesus gave an answer we would do well to heed today. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

The same is still true. We live as citizens of heaven, but we are journeying through this world that the Bible says is not our home. Christians forget this. They begin living for this life, and joining sides in this culture. Jesus never identified Himself with any movement, nor did He alienate Himself from any people group. The leadership alienated themselves when Jesus refused to support them, but sometimes that is the cost of living for heaven.

We forget that God is in control, and He is able to raise up any leader. In fact, the Bible says that all leadership is appointed by God. Look at Romans 13:1-2

 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

There are some important truths in this passage. You are commanded by God to be subject to all governing authorities. We see this played out when the apostles were being persecuted. There were times when they acknowledged that they had to obey God when the governing laws required them to refrain from speaking about Jesus, but they remained subject, and acknowledged that they were willing to suffer the cost of obedience. They didn’t disobey just to fight against the government. They had the mind of obedience, and obedience to God was in conflict with obedience to the governing authorities.

But this is not what is happening in our political church culture. The church is not obeying God and putting themselves at odds with laws. They are disobeying God in order to rebel against the government. God clearly stated that to resist the authority He has put in place is to rebel against God.

We cannot expect God to bless the ministry of the church while the people of the church are in rebellion against God’s clearly given word. Just because we don’t like the leadership does not give us the right to rebel. Even the Apostle Paul demonstrated the proper way to address these things when he was on trial for preaching Christ.

In Acts 23, Paul began his defense by saying that he lived with a right conscience before God until this day. Then someone ordered the soldier near Paul to punch him in the face. Paul rebuked him by calling him a whitewashed wall. This is in reference to the Bible’s reference to grave sites. They are washed and painted white, but inwardly they are filled with decaying bones.

Someone said, “Do you speak this way to God’s High Priest?”

In that time, the High Priest was the highest religious and political figure in Israel. Even though the priest was clearly in the wrong, Paul said, “I did not know he was the high priest, for the scriptures say, ‘You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.’”

In today’s culture, Christians regularly speak evil of their leadership, and boast in rebelling. When Trump was in office, I saw a non-stop stream of hate from Christians who believed that because they labelled him as evil, they were free to reject God’s appointed authority. Now that Biden has been elected, I’m seeing a non-stop stream of hatred from the other side. Just because we label someone as evil does not give us the right to express hate. Consider 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

What would happen if we obeyed this exhortation from scripture? What would happen if instead of posting messages of anger against our leaders, we instead started interceding for them with prayers with a heart of thanksgiving toward God?

This passage tells us what would happen. We would lead quiet and peaceable lives in godliness and reverence. We would become lights to the culture and would have more impact than politics could ever have. We would become the people of Philippians 2:14-15

 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,
 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.


Beautifully Flawed – The Healing Power of God’s Love

I found myself in an odd position. My heart ached from deeply hurting wounds, yet I had the burning desire to express love to those in need. How could I be in need of healing, and still have this care for those who are in need? I soon discovered that the leaking wounds were the flaws that revealed the power of Agape – which is the love of God.

What I learned during my struggles has only grown my determination to share what I’ve discovered with others.

For the most part, only those close to my family know that my marriage came to an end. Since the question comes up, I’ll say up front that, to my knowledge, there has never been infidelity in my marriage on either side. It was something I never thought would happen to me. The details of the death of my married life are not important, but out of the ashes emerged a deeper understanding of the power of God’s healing love.

I was caught off guard because I underestimated the problems beginning to pop up. At first, I was shell shocked and couldn’t seem to find my feet. For nearly a year, I struggled to have even cursory God-time. It was all I could do to sort out the thoughts running through my head. Yet one thing I have learned over the years is to forgive and that it isn’t my job to carry the burdens of life. I soon found my feet, but it would be a year before I would begin to experience the life I once felt in my soul.

True healing began when I started meditating on this truth in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

And the comfort we have received IS the love God pours into our hearts. I like the way Ephesians 3:18-19 states:

18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–
19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The problem is that you and I can’t fix ourselves, our circumstances, or others. When we look to others or ourselves, we can never find hope, but lack. A needy soul can only sap life from others; however, God is big enough to satisfy that need. You can’t sap the life out of Him. The problem I’ve seen is that people don’t truly believe in God’s love, for we put the same merit system on God that we find in human interactions. It’s too easy to believe that until I do something to become worthy, God can’t accept me, but this is far from true.

God is not concerned about what you’ve done, but where you are going. The real life of the Christian begins when we believe in the love He has for us, and allow the Lord to fill our lives. He first fills the empty heart to meet our need, and continues to fill – even though we leak. Yet the more we learn to trust Him, the more we are able to allow Him to fill us beyond our ability to contain it. That’s when the hurt washes away, and emotional and spiritual health emerge from the overflow of what He floods into us. His love is inexhaustible, thus making our flaws irrelevant. The beauty of life springs from the flaws that once ebbed life away.

In my life, what I found was that though the healing took time, the love of God was greater than my hurt. Instead of anger and bitterness, I began praying for those I felt hurt me. I had to break off many relationships because the burdens of their condemnation were too great to be added to the burdens I was already struggling to survive.

But once life emerged, anger died. Bitterness washed away. Hurt soothed. Once my heart was full, the love of God didn’t stop flowing, so it had to go somewhere. I found myself having no way to resist loving those I once held in offense, and I wanted to touch others who were hurting and struggling with rejection.

For some time I have been planning to have a grace conference this April. I wrestled over the questions of whether to go through with it now, and if it should be scheduled at all. Was I ready to step onto a platform? Is it hypocrisy to stand and speak about the Gospel of Grace when few people even know I’m divorced. Now April 23rd is only a few breaths away, and I never felt peace about cancelling. These last few months have been an amazing, but challenging journey. The Lord has flooded me with comfort, joy, and peace, which prepared me for many difficult circumstances. My time with the Lord over the last week altered my focus on the conference.

He has shown me that my journey is where my focus should be. People hurt in many ways. People struggle with addictions in their behavior, substance, and have suffered the loss of many things of value in a futile attempt to fill the emptiness within. Others have been wronged and struggle with bitterness. While some just found themselves stuck in the undertow of life.

The truth is, everyone is flawed. We may hide it under pride, pretense, religion, sin, or any other human construction. Many are ashamed of their flaws. We hide it from the world, and even from those we love. Some flaws are so painful, we hide it from ourselves. However, the grace of God changes everything. God doesn’t promise to take away our flaws, but to overcome them. His love makes us beautifully flawed. It’s only then that we learn to be honest with ourselves and others. Our flaws make us trophies of grace. His love makes us flawless!

Condemnation turns flaws into destruction, but the love of God first makes flaws irrelevant by becoming the strength for our weaknesses, and then makes flaws conduits of grace to others so that we can now comfort others with the comfort we have received from Him.

Rest in Him. He has made you flawless!

Eddie Snipes 2017


Stupid People?

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6

Have you noticed that the roads are filled with stupid drivers? Everyone thinks every other driver is stupid. But not us. It’s ‘those people’. What makes people stupid drivers in our eyes? They interfered with us on some level. The same holds true for the above statement in the humorous picture, “The hardest part of my job is being nice to stupid people.” Who are the stupid people? Those who interfere with us on some level. They may be new and don’t know their job well, or have skillsets that don’t match the roles they are put in.

This may seem like a petty rant, but consider the words of Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

The word corrupt means: poor quality, worthless, or rotten. When I call my co-worker a stupid person, am I speaking that which edifies, or that which gives an image of poor quality?

Here is why this is important. First of all, people naturally rise to the level of the expectation put on them. If you expect good and communicate a positive image, people will both knowingly and unknowingly rise to that image of good expectation. Second, the quality of our attitude is either building up morale, or tearing it down. I cannot expect good relationships when I am teaching one person to think poorly of another. My words build expectations. I’m building a good or bad expectation on the person I’m speaking of, and I’m building up or tearing down the expectations of others toward that person.

Shortly after my high school years, I worked in a warehouse. When someone was hired, our manager, Steve, would come back and say, “Paul is doing a good job, isn’t he.” Everyone would immediately think about what Paul might be doing right. Either directly or indirectly, Paul would get the message that he was a positive part of our team. How do you think Paul responded? He felt good about himself, and he rose to a higher level of work ethic to match that expectation.

Steve was promoted, and a new manager took over. We’ll call him, Jeff. Jeff was the opposite of Steve. His attitude was demanding and he was critical of everyone. He was worried that employees might be getting paid for doing less. He would come back and say, “Is Paul going to cut it? If he’s not pulling his weight, we need to get someone who can.”

Everyone would look at Paul with a critical eye to see if he was doing anything wrong. It wasn’t only Paul that was negatively affected. The team soon stopped being a team. Jeff’s critical attitude created critical perceptions and negative expectations. Production dropped, people quit, new hires struggled to find acceptance, and instead of rising up to a higher expectation, people started worrying about whether others were doing less, and one guy said, “Why bother doing anything extra? No one in management will notice anyway.”

It’s hard to be positive when you are already under the weight of failure. When someone expects you to be a failure, it’s hard to prove your worth. People don’t thrive under negative reinforcement.

The label of stupidity is often that weight of failure. How many people are really stupid? If someone is trying to learn, does inexperience mean they are stupid? Does calling people stupid create good peers and working relationships? In reality, the person who thinks others are stupid is putting demands of perfection on others that the demander also cannot achieve. It is a creation of negativity and has no real value.

Building up will cause people to grow, and eliminate many mistakes. Tearing down will not.

Another counter-productive label of stupidity is when we focus on someone’s weaknesses with a critical eye. Let me tell you the story of Mike. When I was working as a technician at an airline, we had a coworker, Mike. Mike was very slow at doing the things his job demanded. People called him incompetent and stupid. I got to know Mike, and he was a very intelligent guy. It was frustrating to wait on Mike, and he was a drain on our team. The problem wasn’t that Mike was stupid or incompetent. The problem was that the role Mike was given wasn’t compatible with his strengths. He was being forced to use his weaknesses to do the job.

Some people wanted him to be fired. Feeling the pressure, Mike started applying for other jobs in the company, and to my surprise, he landed a very good position. In one day, Mike went from incompetent to exceptional. His new job was a perfect fit for his skillset. The detail oriented personality he had was a poor fit for the fast paced environment of our team, but was an asset to his new role.

What we think is incompetence is often our expectation that someone think or act like us, or to expect someone’s weakness to be a strength. The truth is, if I had Mike’s new role, I would look incompetent. If you have to do something that is outside of your abilities, you will look stupid. What we often call stupidity is actually demanding a duck to run like a gazelle, and demanding a gazelle to climb like a monkey. No matter how much you demand the gazelle to climb better, he will still look like a fool trying to do something he was not designed to do. Contrary to the Wizard of Oz, there are no flying monkeys. And he will look very stupid running around the field, flapping his arms and trying to fly. A duck may roll his eyes and say, “Stupid monkey, flying is easy,” but reverse the roles, and the duck will be the one who looks stupid.

There are two conclusions I want you to take from this. First, don’t let anyone tell you that you are an idiot or label you as stupid because you are branching off to learn new skills, or because you are out of your element. The expert of today, was called incompetent and stupid yesterday. Yet how much quicker the newby will grow if watered with encouragement instead of scorn.

Second, shift your expectation from a critical eye, to a positive expectation. Failures of others is not stupidity. Failures and mistakes are the steps that everyone must brave in order to grow. The hardest part of your job is not being nice to stupid people. The hardest job is to maintain a positive attitude toward others when our expectations are not met. You’ll be surprised at how much happier you will be when you stop being critical of others. You’ll also eliminate frustration when, instead of wasting your energy on criticism, you make it your goal to impart your understanding to the person who lacks what you have learned through experience.

The greater stupidity is to complain about someone’s lack of ability and do nothing positive to help them grow, which will soon be a help to you.

Eddie Snipes 2017