If you are a victim of identity theft, what is your gut reaction? You get angry, right? You may be angry at yourself for being gullible or forgetful -- answering a phishing e-mail and supplying confidential information, or leaving a credit card on top of the gas pump -- but likely you are angry at the person who infiltrated your life for his or her own gain.
It would be reasonable to be angry in such a case. That kind of anger makes sense.
I'm angry this morning about a different kind of identity theft. The word "Christian" has been stolen out from under the Church and it pisses me off. And yes! Christians get pissed off, or they should. We are created in God's image, and God expresses emotions. He feels compassion. He is love, 1 John 4:8 tells us. And he gets angry.
If you look at scripture, God gets angrier at those who know him and disobey anyway than he does at those who are far away from him. Assuming you are a Christian reading this, that means that the God of the universe gets mad at YOU more often than he does at, say, a random evildoer getting his kicks.
This is not a comfortable thought.
But he is also angry when people masquerade as his people for the purpose of manipulating truth and spreading terror. One of the scariest passages in the Bible, to me anyway, is this:
John 7:15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Powerful, effective people. Capable of persuading crowds, drawing followers. Performing miracles! I don't know about you, but I've never performed one. These folks apparently do it routinely. And Jesus says he's going to tell them that he never knew them. Sorry. No can do. Get out. Go to hell. Literally. I mean it....go. Now!
Jesus was speaking to Jews at the time, but certainly he could be speaking to Christians. "Among you," he might say, "among those who bear the label 'Christian,' are people who are working against me and my principles. I'm not talking about the ones who don't know any better, who are sincerely trying to please me and just happen to have their heads up their asses at the the moment (my paraphrase, obviously, of a hypothetical sermon). I'm talking about the ones who were recruited by Satan himself for nothing more than to do his own business: to steal, kill, and destroy."
People like Joseph Kony in Africa, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. Well, hold on there, Ellen! We've always known that the Christian army is the only one in the world that shoots its wounded. Are you attacking a brother?
|John Ocholo, a victim of the LRA's|
practice of mutilating enemies.
Kony is no brother of mine. And if he's a brother of yours, you are no relation either. Kony claims to be a messenger of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, sent to follow the Ten Commandments. His methods? Take a band of followers, rape and then kill all the women in the village, kill all the men in the village, and either kill or steal the children to train them to be killers themselves.
Kony and the LRA has created such terror in Africa that experts believe the only solution is assassination. Kony is not the type to go quietly -- attempts to kill him have not ended well for the special ops soldiers sent to do the job. He and his army live on the move, hidden by the land, protected by the silence of those who fear them.
|A village in Africa after the LRA's|
So I'm angry. Angry at what he is doing. Angry that he calls himself a Christian, when he is just the opposite, a true anti-Christ ruling over his own little kingdom.
I'm also angry that instead of rallying behind whatever groups would work to end his reign of terror, noted radio commentator Rush Limbaugh committed the cardinal sin for the media. He went on the air and ran his mouth without even cursory research to support his venom, actually criticizing President Obama for sending 100 advisers to Africa to help combat the Lord's Resistance Army. He led listeners to believe that our president was trying to wipe out African Christians, thus proving his Muslim leanings. WTF? *
That's just wrong. And Rush knows it was wrong. But this was waaaay back in October, and he still hasn't retracted his statements as far as I can tell. A little two-step about being misinformed, but nothing along the lines of "I was wrong to imply that Obama is trying to kill Christians in Africa. I was wrong to use the tragic murder of women, men and children to further my own warped agenda. Please forgive me."
If he really wanted to make it right, he would apologize...publicly... to President Obama and the military personnel deployed to carry out orders against the LRA. And while he's at it, he should apologize to every Christian in the world who resents being lumped in with a rapist and murderer and kidnapper.
Being Christians, knowing that we require forgiveness ourselves on an appallingly regular basis, we'd forgive Rush.
Being smart, we'd find someone a bit more credible to listen to on the radio.
And if we are wise and good and deserving of the label Christian (literally, "Christ-like," so it's a real stretch for all of us) we will pray that God brings an end to the LRA very, very soon.
And that we will raise up as the kind of army of believers we are called to be: loving, compassionate, trustworthy, honorable, righteous...
Permission to reprint with acknowledgment of source.
*Wrong, This Feels! What did you think I meant? You were probably correct.