Christianity has been hijacked. Christ himself has been hijacked and in the words of theologian Jim Wallis, it is time to take Him back. As a born again Christian with a social conscience in latter day America, identity has always been a struggle. The reason for that is if you believe in the heart of Christ 's teachings, you often do not have a pulpit in modern Christianity. This is because too often the only Christians willing to step up to the microphone are the fundamentalists on the religious right. Between the calls for war with no end, the advocacy of the assassination of Hugo Chavez and support for a most immoral, and anti-Christian budget in modern history, it is no wonder there are so many Christians on the outside of the debate looking in, wondering where their collective voice can be heard.
As I sit in Washington DC listening to Mr. Wallis, at the Politics and Spirituality National Conference, I am hearing my own concerns echoing in my head. I have often wondered when Jesus Christ became a pro-war, pro-rich and only pro-American figure. I am convinced it is the last one that gives people so much trouble. We live in a me-first, materialistic, greedy society. Too often this leads us to think of God in terms of our country first, and too often, only. However, as Wallis points out, once we start viewing God in those terms, our country itself becomes an idol which we worship in lieu of God. The fact of the matter is that all of the people on this planet are God 's children and we just happen to be the most blessed. What do we do with those blessings?
Yesterday, 30,000 children died on this planet because of poor drinking water or lack of food. Today, another 30,000 died and the same will perish tomorrow. One half of God 's children "live " on less than $2.00 per day. Are these the values Christ taught when He walked the earth? It has been said there are over 2,000 verses in the Bible speaking specifically about taking care of the poor. We all breeze by the "widow and orphans " verses and never truly comprehend the message God is giving us. The ministry of Christ was not about what we can accumulate. Naked you came into the world and naked you will go out. Jesus spoke not of hatred for homosexuals or conservative values. He spoke about social justice. He spoke about how we were to live our lives in relation to one another. He spoke about love, redemption, and peace.
To hear some politicians speak about Christ one could easily become confused. They have handpicked two issues, abortion and gay marriage and turned them into the entire platform of family values. What about the impoverishing of a nation while a world starves? As Christians, we are charged with saving all people, not just those in our neighborhood, or even our country. What about the environment and the world we will leave for our children? As Wallis has correctly pointed out, this is not a right or a left issue because the right is wrong and the left doesn 't get it. Unfortunately, the powers that be want that palpable split in this country. They want people to view themselves in terms of these two polar opposites. They feed off the division while their own selfish motives walk right on by. That is the only explanation for how it is the Christians that are supposedly on the side of tax breaks for the rich, cuts to vital services for the poor, and wars in the name of freedom.
The fact is there should be neither right nor left, just what is correct in the eyes of God. Unfortunately, churches today are failing today to send that message as they too often politicize from the pulpit because they are willing to buy into the splitting of God 's people down ideological lines. While some churches are very good at individual salvation, the more global message within the teachings of Christ is lost. As Wallis put it this weekend, churches are good at pulling the bodies out of the river, but at some point someone needs to go upriver and see who keeps throwing them in. What you end up with is churches that only are interested in the fringes of our lives.
The result is a furthering of the identity crisis amongst people of faith. Christians who consider themselves on the right are sold out to abortion and gay rights so they end up supporting war and poverty. Christians who consider themselves on the left are often embarrassed to admit their political leanings while they have to listen to people like Jerry Falwell say that George Bush should "blow all the terrorists away in the name of the Lord. " Then there are people who find themselves in the middle, realizing neither side is absolutely right or wrong. They realize that the true teachings of Christ encompass a global sense of social justice. They realize that being pro life means ALL life because God 's arm is not short. It can reach down to the murderer on death row and to the deserts of Iraq. They realize that tomorrow, 30,000 children will die around the world while Christians in this country squabble over what side of the political spectrum they line up on.
They "get it " but it often appears that no one is listening to the words of Christ amidst the shouting. They are starting a movement to change the direction of the winds in this country and people are starting to listen. According to Wallis, the monologue of the religious right is over and the dialogue of the red-letter Christian is beginning to take hold in this country. In a world that desperately needs to hear the saving message of Jesus Christ and in a country that has hijacked Christ himself, this movement 's identity can be brought back to the letters in red found in the Bible. They are the words of Christ, too often forgotten or overlooked amidst the political wrangling, but no more.