Added Ingredients Sweeping the American Church


The face of the can of juice makes known the contents: 100% Vegetable Juice. One hundred percent! Health lovers are drawn to it; but beware. Underneath the claim of 100% Vegetable Juice is another line, “From concentrate with added ingredients.”

Added ingredients?

As I contemplated the strange labeling I began to wonder. The contents begin with 100% vegetable juice. But what are the other added ingredients? Is it motor oil? Perhaps wood chips? Could it be metal shavings?

The drink contains two full servings of vegetables. Those two servings are good—they contain 100% vegetable juice from concentrate…with added ingredients.

We want 100% vegetable juice. At least I do; that is why I bought the vegetable drink. But what are those added ingredients?  I looked on the back  label where I found a list of stuff I suppose is needed for processing or preservation—like potassium chloride, magnesium, salt, natural flavoring, & ascorbic acid. I can’t tell you anything about these added ingredients other than they are not vegetable juice.

The drink contains 100% vegetable juice, but the contents are not 100% vegetable juice. There is a difference. Once anything other than vegetable juice is added, the contents can no longer be called 100% vegetable juice.

“Once anything other than vegetable juice is added, the contents can no longer be called 100% vegetable juice.”

 A lot of stuff in our lives is 100% good stuff…with added ingredients. Hopefully, like the added ingredients in this drink, they serve a useful purpose. Yet, we all know that in many facets of our lives the added ingredients are sometime helpful and, at other times, harmful.

I think of my Christian faith. Certainly there is 100% Christianity: belief in Jesus Christ, including his birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection. There is the belief in God’s Word, the Bible. There is the belief in love, forgiveness, patience, mercy, and grace. Yet, as I look back through my Christian journey I see a lot of added ingredients—man made rules and beliefs contrary to Christ of Christianity and His teachings.

Having recently read Team of Rivals I was again dumbfounded how Christians, who honestly sought to honor God in their lives, had added the ingredient of slavery to their 100% Christian faith—what a toxic added ingredient that was! I think of various Christian circles in which I have lived where legalistic rules were taught as Gospel truth. Many of these rules were good practices, some were outrageously stupid, but all were added ingredients.

I can look back and see where at every stage on my journey of faith I added other ingredients—practices and beliefs that were not consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. While I may aim to live a life of 100% Christian faith, I know I fall short. I also know that I am not even aware of many of the added ingredients in my life. I have, however, become keenly aware of an added ingredient sweeping the Christian faith in America.

 Two added ingredients sweeping the Christian faith in America

Today, the evangelical American church is much like the churches in Dixie of the 1850s. The issue isn’t slavery, but it is still very political. I interact every day with Christians in business who are sincere in their faith, regularly attending great churches and giving of their time and money to worthwhile causes. Yet, there is often an added ingredient to their faith…an ingredient that is poisoning the effectiveness of Christ’s mission through the church.

1.   Political Conservatism

Political conservatism has become an identifying rallying point. Many American Christians today have added to the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They have tacked on the added ingredients found on Fox News or coming from the lips of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Ingraham, Boortz and whole host of conservative talk show hosts. What I see happening among evangelicals is pathetic. We seem to think if someone has a conservative label then their view is CHRISTian.  Not everything on the right is…right. Not everything with a façade of freedom and patriotism is honoring to God. The American (and I should add the word “white”) evangelical church needs to wake up and realize that there is no political party or political ideology that speaks for the Christian community. The conservative agenda is not synonymous with the mission of Jesus.

2.   Super-Capitalism

Not only is political conservatism an added ingredient diluting 100% Christian faith, there is another equally potent ideology that has been welcomed into the church. Capitalism, which certainly has merits, has been so exaggeratedly embraced by many Christian business people that it is used to disguise gross greed and selfishness—which is not an ingredient of 100% Christian faith. In the name of capitalism we hold onto our riches, or lavishly spend them on ourselves, living as if our treasure is here and not in heaven.

Entitlement

Conservatives and Super-capitalists love waging a war against entitlements. While the Bible says “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” it also says we are to care for the poor, the widows and the fatherless. I regularly see Christian business people who will claim all they have belongs to God and is a result of God’s blessing and provision, while living lives that shout they are “entitled” to it because they have earned it. They give away a portion and lavish the bulk on themselves. This type of entitlement is nauseating—Someone please pass me the barf bag.

In their warped minds this political framework gives them the right to withhold giving to the poor and less fortunate “who are where they are in life because of poor choices.” Does that sound like Jesus? Does that sound like an ingredient of 100% Christian faith? If you think it does then you probably can’t tell the difference either between a Ruth’s Chris Signature Steak and Spam.

Sometimes the dust kicked up by the multitudes joining this mindless herd creates a cloud so dark unbelievers can’t find the Light. You hear it in conversations, but no where is it more apparent than online. Social media, particularly, provides the overwhelming evidence for how we have robotically taken our cues from conservative talking heads. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, I have friends who loudly proclaim their love for Jesus in one update and then in next display a disrespectful character assassination for national and political leaders. Not everything written or said by Mr. Radio Conservative is fit for our keyboard.

This is not a call to put our heads and hands in the sand when faced with social and moral issues. Rather, it’s a call for Christians to start thinking from a worldview based on the teachings of Jesus instead of the rhetoric of star political commentators.

Time to Start Thinking

It’s time for the American evangelical Church to start thinking. Yes, thinking! Instead of thoughtlessly hitching our values to the conservative political talk show train or party platform, we must appraise their principles in light of Truth. We need to cultivate a pattern of regularly dissecting the added ingredients of political conservatism and capitalism from 100% Christian truth.

Let’s stay involved in politics and stand up for those freedoms that mirror the teaching of Jesus. Yet, like the people of Berea, let’s also evaluate what we hear by judging it against what God has provided for us in His Word. Let’s affirm there is not a political talk show host or political ideology that will define us or dictate how we think, vote or live. If we dare call ourselves Christian, let’s aim to live lives 100% in line with Christ.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Great blog! Somehow the thinking for many is to “Save America” by backing a particular political party with a conservative, moral platform. How does that path save anybody? Jesus gave us our marching orders in Matthew 28:19-20. Morally upright people without Christ will share the same destination as those who lead moral lives without Christ. It’s a heart change that is needed plus a bottle of Pepsi and a flyrod. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted by jackwbruce on August 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Dave, Thanks for comments. I love the idea of the flyrod, but while no one else may understand this, you can have your Pepsi along with some Spam, I’ll have a Coke with my steak. (insert Double smiley face here) -jack

    Reply

    • Posted by Judy on August 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks for speaking Biblical truth. I agree that it’s past time for Christians to “Think” and seek to focus on the teachings of Jesus first and how they relate to politics. I’m continuously appalled at the rage and personal attacks on those whose opinions are contrary to our conservative beliefs. It’s force is against people instead of ideology. The true enemy is the adversary of our souls.

      Reply

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