The time has come for Christians to formally separate themselves from “America First” evangelicals.
These erstwhile believers have clearly lost their way, and worse, they are daily maligning the name of Jesus with their mindless attachment to right-wing politics.
Enough is enough. We must cut our ties with them and get back on the gospel path.
The grounds for our separation are pretty simple: “America First” evangelicals have corrupted the meaning of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.
I would encourage them to be more transparent by using a different title that reveals their political loyalties, such as the Republican Evangelical Party, Evangelicals for Trump or the Religious Right Party.
They just need to stop calling themselves “evangelicals” without a clarifying adjective.
Proving our case shouldn’t be too hard. We can use something as basic as John 3:16 to illustrate the misuse of Jesus’ name and message.
For instance, the evangelical practice of promoting car tags that read “God Bless America” as an expression of Christian faithfulness.
Doesn’t John 3:16 tell us that “God so loved the world”? If folks really believe this message, shouldn’t the prayer on the car tag read “God Bless the World”?
Sure, America is part of the world that God loves, but we are not the whole world. Narrowing the message down to just one nation distorts God’s far-reaching love for humankind.
Making America the primary focus of God’s love distorts the authentic mission of God’s people.
Our calling is not to promote Christianity as the possession of our nation only, but to announce God’s desire to redeem the whole world.
And not according to American preferences, but according to the needs of people – all people.
Jesus could not have been clearer about this issue. According to Jesus, our lives will not be judged by how faithful we were as Americans, but how diligent we were in meeting the needs of the needy.
In Matthew 25:31ff we read the words of Jesus informing us that we will find him “in the least of these.”
And these “least ones” are not defined by race or religion, but simply by their need.
Jesus’ vision was based on a commitment to God first, not America First or another nation first.
“I was hungry,” Jesus said, “and you fed me.” That’s what the vision of Jesus looks like.
Evangelical support for measures such as building a wall to keep the poor away from our borders is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus.
When evangelicals surrender to the selfish and self-centered politics of “America First,” they abandon the teachings of Jesus and submit themselves to idolatry.
I know this is harsh, but no one ever said following Jesus would be easy. “Narrow is the way,” Jesus said, “and only a few find it.”
That’s why he told his followers, “Deny yourself and take up your cross.”
That is not an invitation to a Fourth of July celebration. Taking up the cross of Jesus is about sacrifice, commitment and loving our neighbor.
If some folk want to be part of the Religious Right and promote America first, that is their prerogative.
Just don’t try to pass that affiliation off as being in line with Jesus’ mission and message. It is not.
In the legal language of our courts, incompatibility of temperament is a just complaint for separation. In the case of Christianity vs. “America First” evangelicals, it most surely applies.
James L. Evans is a retired Baptist preacher living in Alabama. Over 35 years, he served churches in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. In support of his pastoral work, Evans published 5 books including “First and Second Corinthians: Immersion Bible Studies” (Abingdon Press (2011).