Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Why Wright Is Wrong
I likely have an unusual take on all this. But no worries--you've thought of me as unusual anyway, right? Nothing new about that.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright, lontime mentor, confidant and pastor of Presidential candidate, Senator Barrack Obama, has an obvious and serious problem. That Senator Obama does, too, is not my issue here.
Reverend Wright has a lot of awful, hateful and racist beliefs, many of which are now out in the open--he's a top draw on YouTube.com. What an honor. Unbelievably, there are at least some of his peers who have come to his defense, attempting to make little and light of what is huge and dark. They'll have to deal with those of us who think Wright's rants (the white U.S. government concocted the AIDS virus and injected it into black men in order to kill blacks; the U.S. of Ku Klux Klan America; rich white men persecuted and crucified Jesus, etc.) are not only terribly inaccurate, but dangerous. Watching the many members of his congregation rise to their feet in loud and angry agreement with his lunatic opinion is equally disturbing as the vitriol that brought them there.
But to my point: Reverend Wright does not believe the gospel. I don't mean that he isn't a Christian--I mean he doesn't believe what a Christian must in order to have any chance of bearing fruit to God. Pardon me if this sounds overly simplistic: Jeremiah Wright is a racist, but that's not his problem. He has been blinded by the god of this world, and has accepted his vision of who people are and how to get things done. That's his problem. Whenever anyone of any color does not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, he is left to living under the influence of the flesh and the devil. There is no other way. The gospel of Jesus Christ is evidently missing in Jeremiah Wright.
Listening to him speak makes it plain that he does not think of himself (or anyone else) as having been crucified and raised with Christ Jesus, brand new, now to live in the new way of the Holy Spirit and not by the former way of the flesh. Watching him condemn white people and shout "God ____ America!" makes it obvious that he does not believe ". . . that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." (2 Cor 5:19,20a) That's simply not working for Wright. And he clearly does not believe that the Kingdom of God is within him, along with God Himself, ready and willing to show Himself through the church--even through Rev. Wright. Like many, Wright believes and gives himself more to the overthrow of visible problems and strongholds than to the overthrow of invisible strongholds. He's got the game confused. He is much more crusader against than ambassador of.
If I were to have an hour with Wright, I would ask, "Where is God right now?" When once he responded with something like, "Because of my new birth in Christ, He is in me," I would then present the following scenario: "Let's pretend that God decided to confine Himself only to being inside of you--nowhere else in the world. What would you do? What would be the best way for you to serve and honor God? Would it be to work like crazy at various projects, urban and rural alike? Would it be to go on television and tell everyone that God lives in you, and so here's how to make every wrong right? No. It would be to let Him do whatever He wanted from within you. Whatever. Whenever. Wherever. God in you--on display.
"How do you suppose He would behave through you? What would He say through you? What would He do through you?"
I believe that's the essence of Christianity, and maybe our remaining discussion would be invigorated because it is. But I don't believe that's Wright's brand, and I don't believe that's a lot of people's idea of Christianity. I hope it's yours. While we cannot see God inside of us, Christians are His containers, and belief that that's true will make Him visible.
What you and I believe about the visible and invisible, the temporal and eternal, will determine our tactics as well as the power that feeds them. It will either be flesh, or it will be Spirit. It will be hellish, or it will be heavenly. We'll either look like Hell, or we'll look like Jesus. And since Rev. Wright is likely a new creation in Christ, our approach to him and those who believe what he does must have that at the front. We're ambassadors.
I think we're going to see and hear some really awful looking Christians in the days ahead, believing men and women who hold crazy beliefs. Better said, men and women who are held by crazy beliefs. They don't know what's true because they have been deceived into the storms of this world. If we get caught up with what we see and hear, rather than by what we know and believe, the storm will take us, too.
My advice? Keep your head. Our battle, our labor is not against flesh and blood, but against spirit--the same spirit that makes Wright so wrong. It will matter very little what our political view is and how well we defend it if the same spirit that fools Wright fools us. What will count is how we live by faith in Jesus Christ--that He has made a new race of people, a regal race, through the cross and resurrection, and He has enabled us to live by the Holy Spirit and not by the flesh.
We're new--so is the way we live.