Which follower represents the real Jesus? Vice-president Mike Pence or entertainer Lady Gaga? The public spat between these two famous Christians represents the current state of affairs in North American Christianity. The divide in the modern Church has fallen between ‘conservatives’ on one side and ‘progressives’ on the other. (Some writers will use the terms ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘liberals’, but I do not believe they fairly capture the 21st Century groupings.)
Some advocates on both sides have said that any Christian must choose a ‘side’ or a ‘label’ in the current debate. Each side will claim that the other side does not represent a truly ‘Christian’ point of view. Sometimes history has, I think, proven that to be true: both sides cannot be right. For example, the so-called Christian Crusades are one of the blackest marks in the history of the Church. Advocacy for slavery, arguing it was somehow supported by the Bible, is another example of Christians abusing the Bible for their personal, economic or political goals.
However, I would like to sound a note of caution to those who claim one must fall in the camp of either Mike Pence or Lady Gaga. The danger every Christian and every church must guard against is using Jesus to promote personal, economic, social or political views. By this I mean we always stand in danger of getting it backwards: “I believe ‘X’, and here are words of Jesus which support my point of view.” The proper use of Jesus’s words is to allow Jesus to speak for himself first: “Jesus says ‘X’, and I make Jesus’ beliefs my own.”
I believe that both Mike Pence and Lady Gaga are children of God and followers of Jesus. Both are sinners saved by grace. So are you. But, they are not Jesus. Neither are you. Only Jesus is Jesus. Read what Jesus says, then decide what you, as a Christian, are called to believe and to do. 21st Century Christianity has created a false choice for Christians. You are not required to choose sides: ‘progressives’ or ‘conservatives’. Choose to be on the side of Jesus.
Now, go read Luke 4:18-19. This was Jesus’ self-chosen mission statement. Make it your own. And pray for Mike Pence and Lady Gaga to find unity in Jesus.