If I hadn’t read it several times with my own eyes, I would think that Micah 6:8 says:
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you–
do justice defend Hobby Lobby, and to love mercy eat regularly at Chick-fil-a,
walk humbly with your God protest the protesters of Phil Robertson?”
I’ve even preached from that passage a couple times. But a quick look at modern Christian practice reveals that I must have an antiquated version of the Scriptures. It seems we are more about craft stores, chicken sandwiches, and bearded guys than we are justice, mercy, and humility. Have you noticed that?
Every time I see a Facebook post lamenting how a craft store is CLOSING ALL 500 STORES!!!! I think two thoughts:
1. It’s not true. Hobby Lobby is actually opening dozens more stores in 2014.
2. I don’t like doing crafts. And Jesus still rose from the dead.
Every time I hear someone talk about eating chicken like it’s an act of courageous faith, I think four things:
1. I get the #2, add bacon (duh) with provolone cheese and a Sweet Tea.
2. I wish I could get full at Chick-fil-a without spending ten bucks.
3. The devil doesn’t care if you eat at Chick-fil-a. He probably would eat there, too, if he could. He’d get the Spicy Chicken, of course.
4. Jesus still rose from the dead.
And all this Phil Robertson nonsense–well, don’t even get me started. This had Facebook drama written all over it from the start. Never mind that the original GQ article was pretty fair and balanced (though a little potty-mouthed). Never mind that A&E never intended to “suspend” him for long. Never mind that there was too much money to be made to do anything drastic. Never mind that Phil probably shouldn’t have said the coarse things he said, as his family members admitted on his behalf. And never mind that Duck Dynasty is an entertaining show. All those things are givens. Only three thoughts keep ticking around in my head on this one.
1. What exactly was everyone throwing a fit about?
2. What exactly did it accomplish? (You sharing a social media link did not get Phil re-instated. That was going to happen all along.)
3. Didn’t Jesus still rise from the dead?
You can watch the camo’d out right-wingers, buy your crafts from Hobby Lobby, and stop for lunch at Chick-fil-a. Pat yourself on the back. Feel good about sticking it to the liberals. Share those Facebook posts. No need to look up if what they are purporting is accurate. Put stuff in ALL CAPS TO SHOW HOW MUCH YOU MEAN IT! Talk about it at church. Here’s some spectacular news–now you can support Phil by eating at Chick-fil-a.! That’ll show ’em what Christianity is all about!
Or will it?
A closer look at Micah 6:8 reveals that it does not, in fact, mention Righteous Rednecks, Holy Hobby Lobby, or Cherub Chicken. Rather, it talks about doing justice, loving mercy, and walking in humility before God.
In the first draft of this blog, this was my “don’t get me wrong…” back-off paragraph where I softened the blow of what I’ve said so far. I didn’t want to be too controversial, and in a politicized Christianity like the one that is often practiced in America I know I’m probably ruffling more feathers than I normally care to ruffle. Then I decided this is a line in the sand for me. So here it goes: constant protest may be a response to issues we disagree with, but that does not mean it is a Gospel response. The teachings of Jesus center around a cross, self-sacrifice, and serving the least of these. It may be time to consider putting down our protest signs and picking up our cross.
Fellow American Christians: The power of the Gospel is not found in over-priced decor, even if they are sold by a company whose CEO is a Christian. The power of the Gospel is not found in over-priced chicken sandwiches, no matter how delicious they are, just because that company’s CEO is a believer in Jesus. And the power of the Gospel is not found in hairy, folksy outdoorsmen–even if every episode of their “reality” show ends with a family prayer. So again…can we relax a little?
The power of the Gospel is found in Jesus Christ being dead in a tomb and then not being dead any more. He rose from the dead before there was Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-a, and Duck Dynasty, and he’ll be risen from the dead when our favorite Christian companies and brands are long gone. The power of the Gospel insists that we stand up for Jesus more and for Phil a little less. If one is doing the latter to the neglect of the former then one must examine their understanding of the Gospel more closely.
We can live without our crafts and chicken and Uncle Si. We cannot live without Jesus.
When someone un-raises Jesus from the dead, let’s pitch our fits and share our posts and lament until the Chick-fil-a cows come home. Until then, may we usher in the Kingdom of God through acts of justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.
Titus Benton is a student pastor, writer, and Executive Director of The 25 Group, a nonprofit with the ambitious aim of leveraging the wealth of the American church to fund global Kingdom work. You can learn more about The 25 Group–and maybe even jump on board with this growing community of givers–by clicking here.