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No, Jesus is Not Headed to the White House. Here’s Why.

“Politics and religion mixed is the headiest cocktail ever invented.”

-Norah Bentinck

I love the Facebook account “Humor from a Pentecostal Pew”. I was raised in the Pentecostal movement, and there’s nothing funnier than people who have the guts to poke fun at themselves. Then I saw this meme on Facebook a day or so after the inauguration of President Trump.

No, Jesus is not Headed to the White House. Here's Why.

If Kellyanne Conway wants to talk about some “alternative facts,” this image is a perfect example. Maybe conservatives find it funny. And maybe some actually believe it to be true, but is there any mature Christian with a balanced worldview out there who honestly believes Jesus just moved into the Lincoln bedroom?

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of President Trump, but this isn’t about his vulgar language, disrespect of women, hatred of immigrants, or any of the other numerous issues brought to light during his campaign. This post is about Jesus. Not Trump, not Obama. Jesus, and American Politics.

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A couple of days ago, as I was prepping for Sunday service, my kids nearly killed each other in the next room. He had her blanket and she had his bouncey ball. At five and three, these things matter greatly. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth and my blood pressure was on the rise. There were a few times when I sincerely questioned why we ever had children.

When I see memes like the one above, it reminds me of my son stealing his sister’s blanket. “That’s mine!” he would scream, yanking it out of her hands. And she would sulk and pout and yell for Dad to rescue her.

No. Jesus is not headed back to the White House. Here's why.

Since Friday’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Saturday, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been inundated with some of my adult friends, who are acting much like my children. It seems that many of us think we can somehow own Jesus, that Jesus is more prone to wear an elephant pin on his lapel than a donkey. Sometimes I think we’ve got a bad case of mine-itis, continuing to pull and fight, laying claim as the rightful owner of this Americanized, political Jesus.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The marriage of bad theology & dirty politics has created a bastardized version Christianity. #graceismessy” quote=”The marriage of bad theology and dirty politics has created a bastardized version of American Christianity that must be breaking the heart of God.” theme=”style6″]

It is ripping our churches down the middle and splitting out country wide open. This is a game where nobody wins. None of us have all the answers. Not one of us is right 100% of the time. But we can each be intentional with our kindness and decency, even toward those with whom we vehemently disagree.

What if we gave up the idea of trying to label Jesus as a Republican or Democrat altogether? What if we stopped fighting so hard to be right? What if, instead, we focused on kindness and cooperation, in order to make not only America, but this whole wide world, a little better?

I think the last place Jesus wants to live is in the White House. The Son of God isn’t lobbying Congress on behalf of Planned Parenthood any more than he is sitting with the Joint Chiefs, pressing someone to drop a bomb. Jesus has far greater concerns than who is being confirmed by the Senate or which Bible the President-elect used for the Inauguration.

My honest opinion is that the government has a very important job to do, and so does the Church. Both operate more efficiently and effectively when they stay out of each other’s business.

The question that remains is how should we be acting toward one another when we talk about politics? In a word: decent. Conversation is a powerful tool for change. The Bible says that the greatest weapon in the world is the tongue, so let’s use ours to build up and not tear down. I think Jeremy Caris said it best, “Jesus never said we would be known as His disciples by our morals, politics,  or what we oppose – but by our love.” Let’s remember that on the other side of that computer monitor or smartphone screen is another human being, deserving of respect. Someone just like you and me.

[clickToTweet tweet=”No, Jesus isn’t Headed to the White House. Here’s Why. #Christianity #politics #graceismessy” quote=”No, Jesus isn’t Headed to the White House. Here’s Why. ” theme=”style6″]


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Confessions of a Ministry School Dropout

As hard as I’ve tried to forget, I vividly remember the “Christian” I was during my first year of ministry school. It was during this season of my life that I knew my calling was to be on the Morality Task Force for Jesus. I firmly believed that loving people looked like correcting them, based on my own interpretation and understanding of a very black and white Gospel.

Confessions of a Ministry School Dropout

At the age of twenty, I had all the answers. I remember judging a family member’s addiction, a classmate’s smoking problem, and being shocked that an unmarried girl in our program got pregnant. She was quickly expelled. It was the only right thing to do.

In those days, grace was cut and dried.

My own narrow-minded judgment drove a wedge between family members and me. Just as painful, I allowed my religiosity to drive a wedge between myself and friends I’d had since grammar school. My self-righteousness severed a few great relationships.

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A few years ago, I was working in the school system and eavesdropping on a high school conversation. One of the students was eleven weeks pregnant. Her friend, an openly gay boy, asked, “How awkward was it [telling your parents]?”

“Daddy threw a couple of things and cussed me out,” She responded. “He told me to get out of the house.”

They made some small talk, and when I tuned back in, she said, “I had to quit softball.  My life is over. Now I have a new life to care about.”

My heart broke for her. I was crushed over the idea that a father would disown this beautiful girl because she made a choice he disapproved of. His judgment drove a deeper wedge between them than he may ever realize. I’ve often wondered if they were ever able to make amends and repair their withered relationship.

I wanted to chime in. To let her know, this world is a cruel place, but God is love. I wanted to tell her, “Your dad may have cussed you out and thrown things, but your Father is wild about you and the precious baby in your womb. Jesus knows all about being born out of wedlock. Your baby is a gift.“

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Perhaps it’s easy for you to see an unwed pregnant teenager as a person made in the image of God. But maybe other groups of people are harder to see. Maybe it’s your gay co-worker or your agnostic son or your black neighbor. No matter our differences, God has called us to value the person in front of us.

I’ve often thought back on the gay boy who showed such compassion to his pregnant friend that day. I think it may have been easier for him to offer her love and kindness instead of suggestions on how to “fix” her situation, because he knew what it felt like to be an outcast. He had heard all the harsh opinions of people who refused to stop and listen to his story. He knew what it was like to feel unsafe, unaccepted, and even unloved.

Maybe it’s easier for me to extend compassion today than it used to be, because I know what it’s like to think your life has fallen apart. I know what it’s like to desperately need compassion because just a few years after ministry school, I became the youth pastor who attempted suicide.

Maybe I am able to extend kindness and grace to those who are different from me because, I too, know what it’s like to feel like an outcast due to my life circumstances. When I began to publicly affirm LGBTQ Christians, I quickly remembered what it was like to feel like an outcast. One of my closest friends walked away from me because of my “wrong beliefs.” Sitting across from him at Starbucks, he told me I would end up in hell and drag thousands with me, because I am  telling gay people Jesus loves them.

It’s time to put an end to judgment. To open conversation. To allow compassion to heal us, and let kindness lead us all to repentance. It’s time to engage those who don’t act like us, look like us, or behave like us, or sin like us. Trust me, they know they’re different. And they are hurting. If we are going to carry the banner of Christianity, it’s time for us to learn to love like Jesus.

I’m so sick of hearing, “love the sinner, hate the sin”. It’s bullshit. Jesus never said that. Instead, as a good friend of mine says, Jesus loved everyone and commanded us to do the same.

It’s time for us to do more than just pray for our neighbors from a safe distance or preach at them via social media. It’s time to embrace those who have been displaced, disenfranchised, or demonized by preachers or politicians. It’s time to clothe ourselves in love, kindness, and humility. Where judgment separates and segregates, love gathers. When criticism splits, grace draws near. Living our love is the only way to make a positive change in the world. It’s not our theology, politics, or ideologies that honor God. Love is the only way to honor the God who is alive inside us all.


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Donald Trump Couldn’t Pass the Citizenship Test. Can You?

Today, Senator Harry Reid challenged Donald J. Trump to take a naturalization test.

Can you pass the Grace is Messy U.S. Citizenship test?

Here’s what Harry Reid said, “Since Donald Trump wants to impose new tests on immigrants, he should take the one test every immigrant has to pass to become a United States citizen. He would almost certainly fail, given his general ignorance and weak grasp of basic facts about American history, principles and functioning of our government.”

Harry Reid had some pretty harsh (read: honest and friggin’ hilarious) things to say about the Republican nominee (read the full story here). It’s refreshing to see other National leaders call Trump out for being the jackass he really is. I’d love to see Trump’s score on a naturalization test.

My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take an online naturalization quiz. I thought I’d score poorly, but I actually scored 96%!

Since I had so much fun, I created a quiz just for you. If you’d like to test yourself, answer the following 15 questions without cheating (no Google!) and leave your score in the comments!

Click CONTINUE to take the quiz:

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Why a Vote for Trump is a Vote Against Women

When I read Lisa’s original article on Yourtango, I knew I had to have her write a post for the Grace is Messy Tribe! Lisa’s words are timely and so important. Don’t miss this post.

-Steve

Why a Vote for Trump is a Vote Against Women

Recently I wrote a blog about Fox New’s anchor, Gretchen Carlson and the lawsuit she has against her former boss, Roger Ailes. Carlson’s story has been at the top of the trending news stories for the past few weeks. I think that is so because so many women can relate to Carlson’s situation in that many of us have suffered from sexual harassment in our work places. Almost every woman that I have spoken to completely supports Carlson and fully believes her story.

Yet one of our presidential candidates has weighed in on sexual harassment and you might find his comments rather terrifying.  When asked about sexual harassment in the workplace as it might pertain to his daughter, Donald Trump said, “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.” So Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, a very wealthy and educated woman, could just quit and find herself another job but what about the rest of us?  Most women can’t as easily quit and find gainful employment.  What about single moms, or poor women, or elderly women who can’t go without a paycheck for any length of time?

Trump’s son, Eric, went on to suggest, “Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, subjected to it.”  Apparently the Trump men think that women have control over whether or not they are sexually harassed and whether or not they can quickly and easily leave to find new employment.  How terribly lacking in compassion can these men be? I was sexually harassed and I am a strong, powerful, educated woman.  Sexual harassment doesn’t discriminate.  Carlson is a strong and powerful woman at the top of her career and yet it still happened to her.

Sexual harassment has affected so many women in devastating ways. When our workplace doesn’t feel safe, our work and our families are terribly affected.  When other men don’t criticize men like the Trumps for their comments, they are essentially validating those comments and thus undermining women.  When men like Donald Trump criticize or sexualize women, they are dehumanizing us and harming us in more ways than just name-calling.

It’s time for women to stand up to men like Donald and Eric Trump.  It’s time for us to have zero tolerance for their comments and behavior.  We must call out every time we are sexually harassed or we see harassment happening to other women.  It is time for us to choose leaders who respect us in all areas of our lives, especially at work.  Any candidate, who isn’t actively supporting women and women’s rights, won’t do what’s necessary to help us during their presidency.  

Think carefully before you head to the polls this November. Is your candidate going to stand up for your rights at work and at home? Does your candidate respect women and their need for respect and safety at work?  How does your candidate speak about women and families?  Donald Trump hasn’t shown that he is worthy of women’s votes; maybe it’s time to insist that he behave differently before we vote him into the most important job in the world.

lisakaplinLisa Kaplin is a psychologist, life coach, and professional speaker at http://www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com/

You can reach her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com

trump women

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Why Being a 90’s Kid in the Church was Scary as Hell

I grew up scared to death of God. I was scared to sin, but deeper than that, I was scared to be found imperfect…though I think the word we used back then was unholy. I thought holiness meant memorizing Scripture, never embarrassing my family or my church, and learning to live a perfect life.

Why Being a 90's Kid in the Church was Scary as Hell

I just knew the Henchmen of Heaven would come and steal me away in the middle of the night as a thirteen-year-old and damn me to eternal punishment early because I’d said “shit” or been caught lingering too long on the adult movie channels late at night at my grandparents’ house. Any 90’s boy knows exactly what I’m talking about: the high numbers on satellite, blurred out, with the fuzzy green and pink lines. Every once in awhile you could catch the shadow of a boob if you just stared hard enough.

The children’s song, “Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see!” used to scare the crap out of me. Surely there was no room for a little pervert like me on streets of gold.

I was a child in the 80’s and 90’s. I graduated high school in 2001. For a kid immersed in evangelicalism, these were the days of “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames”. It was a dramatic presentation, based on a literal belief in Heaven and Hell, intended to “bring the lost to repentance”.

I can still remember the darkened sanctuary, the blood-curdling screams of the actors, the scenario about the bad wreck where a teenager died. The play used to scare the bejesus right out of me.

This was also the peak of church-sponsored haunted houses, in lieu of trick or treating, designed to scare people into salvation. If anything, Gospel presentations like these succeeded at scaring the Hell out of me and most of my church friends.

I was in church each time the doors were open, but I had an innate sense that I would die the same way I was born: as a fraud.

Being raised in a faith based on fear, shame, and guilt caused me years of confusion. I heard that “God is love”, but I knew I had to work incredibly hard to earn it. And how do you earn the love of a God you could never possibly be good enough for?

I was a 90’s kid in the church, but that’s not who I am today. I’m no longer fearful of Hell because I’ve found perfect Love. I’ve found the kindness of Jesus, which has changed my life. Instead of obsessing over every little imperfection, I have found freedom in the life and compassion of Jesus.

These days, I am raising two children of my own. And I am doing my best to raise them, knowing mistakes are inevitable and perfectly fine. I want them to know that the Jesus of the Bible was far more concerned with healing us on the inside than any bit of performing we could offer him on the outside.

I don’t want my kids to be scared of an aloof and untouchable God of Judgment. Instead, I want to show them the love of an ever-present and approachable Jesus who is wild about them, just as they are.

scary hell tweet