As a pastor, I’m obviously going to notice Scriptures when they appear in public life, especially on a giant banner being held at a rally that turns into a riot. The most ironic sign I saw in D.C. this week was taken from the Old Testament: “Choose this day whom you will serve” ~ Joshua 24:15.
Some of the images we saw this week: a man who had broken into the Capitol building sitting in Mike Pence’s seat, and another sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s seat. I had a quick flashback to Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” shouting, “Get off my plane!”
One of the scariest images in the Bible is that of the “Awful Horror,” an idol that is brought into the Temple and placed in the spot reserved for the Holy of Holies. This is often coupled with descriptions of Satan, who wishes to ascend to God’s throne and sit in his seat. It seems so obvious that these things are wrong that we seldom talk about them. And yet these days it seems that nothing is obvious anymore.
For example: If you are a Christian, you should be against committing acts of violence against property and police officers. And yet, some Christians choose to align themselves with such acts of violence. How does this happen?
It begins when we decide, consciously or subconsciously, that anyone is more important than Christ. Here’s a blunt quiz, even easier than yesterday’s:
Decide today whom you will serve. Your options are:
a) Trump; b) Biden; c) Jesus.
Those who choose a) or b) will listen to their candidate, then see what Jesus has to say, and if Jesus doesn’t agree with their candidate they will chalk it up to the fact that the Bible was written thousands of years ago. Those who choose c) will read what Jesus has to say, and throw out any human opinions that contradict his teachings.
There are many good reasons for the separation of church and state, but the one I’d like to highlight is that when churches put any human being in the seat reserved for God, they lose their moral authority. On Wednesday night and Thursday, we saw many people struggling with their consciences, saying, “I can’t take it anymore!”, submitting resignations and/or changing their votes. They suddenly realized that there was an authority above any human power.
And now, the full verse from Joshua 24:15:
And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ~ Joshua 24:15, RSV
And a reminder for all of us as we pray God’s blessing upon America, that our actions will bring either a blessing or a curse:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then this temple will become a heap of rubble. ~ 2 Chronicles 14, 19, 21, NIV
The decision should be obvious, but for just like the old magazine quizzes in which the right answers were given at the bottom of the page, here’s the right answer: