Pastor’s Column – July/Aug 2024

Pastor’s Column – July/Aug 2024

homeless man sleeping on bench with his possessions and bicycle ceside him
“Poor Man” by Rojina is licensed under CC

You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:32:

Will we be faithless and held captive by deliberate and destructive disinformation and loyalty to the lies of the false prophets of our day, or will we be faithful to the truth that Jesus promise can set us free?”

The false white gospel, by Jim Wallis

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, you will know them by their fruits.”

Matthew 7:15-20

Typically, pastoral newsletter articles invite us to look at our lives with a new lens, a God lens, tuned to the divine in our midst. While this article is no different, its topic transcends our personal relationship with God and includes our collective relationship with one another and God in this election season. If the kin-dom of God is about an earth that looks like heaven, a kin-dom that begins with the least of these, a kin-dom of justice instead of kin-dom just-for-us, then I believe it’s imperative for people of faith to be clear about what is good news and what is bad news. Who are the prophets, and who are the false prophets?

It’s important to remember that Jesus was considered a false prophet by many in his time. Religious leaders frequently challenged and condemned him for how he lived out his faith. Even Jesus was accused of being unfaithful to the true God. The tension and divisions were real, and we know that it eventually cost him his life. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ famous teachings from Matthew 5-7, which we should all be familiar with, Jesus addresses false prophets and how to discern their words from the prophets that speak God’s truth. Jesus is very clear: you will know false prophets by their fruits. What are the fruits of their political vision? How does that impact the least of these, the marginalized, a community where everyone has what they need? If that vision does not produce fruit, if it does not nourish God’s dream or God’s beloved, then Jesus urges the disciples to be highly suspect that they are prophets of the true God.

If their words demean the imago dei, the image of God in another, it’s highly suspect.

If their call to action requires violence or hate, it’s highly suspect.

If their motives are vengeful and retaliatory, it’s highly suspect.

Christ does not fit well in our left or right boxes. He is not Republican, and he sure isn’t Democrat. Christ goes deeper than politics. He is concerned with the well-being and welfare of the community more than being in charge of the temple or having a place of privilege within the empire. We, too, are called to be a people who go deeper with Christ. In this election season, follow the truth. Pay attention to words and discern what fruit could grow from them. Go deeper into scripture. Consult with the prophets. Sit at the feet of Jesus, and notice on the good news all around you.

Holy God, let our words and actions reflect Christ’s love. Help us and guide us in the small ways we can shape the kin-dom of God on Earth. In our conversations and through the sacredness of our vote. Amen.

Blessings, Pastor Keith

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