You’d think it was a “Saturday Night Live” skit or a fake headline from The Onion. But it was real. A televangelist really did kick off a rally for Donald Trump in New York by saying that black people don’t exist.
This is exactly what Mark Burns said at the Rochester rally last week:
The fact of the matter is there are no black people. There are no white people. There are no Hispanic people. There are no Asian people. There’s only one color that matters—and that is the color of red, white and blue.
He went on to denounce the current administration for being divisive and trying to convince people that the color of their skin is more important than being “red, white and blue.”
And then the pastor led the crowd in chanting “USA”.
There are all sorts of problems with the theology of this talk behind it. Namely, I’m confident that God wants us to see each other in all of our glorious colors and cultures and particularities. Colorblindness is a very harmful myth. We have a world of CEOs, police, judges and juries who are anything but colorblind.
God Wants Unity, But Not Uniformity
Monoculture is what we had when we built the Tower of Babel, impressed by ourselves in all our human pride. But God toppled the idolatrous tower and scattered humanity into all sorts of tribes and languages. God seems to be a big fan of diversity.
Monoculture is what empires do. Conformity. Uniformity. Sameness. Empires make coins and people all look alike. But diversity is what God does. God is an artist and painted the world in full color—each person with a unique DNA, fingerprint and smile. God loves unity—but unity is different than uniformity. It exists in contrast. It is about harmony not homogeneity. The whole Bible ends with every tribe and tongue and nation singing the praises of Jesus—not the national anthem.
The Bible never says, “God so loved America”. It says, “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16).
The temptation for Christians in an election year is to misplace our hope in a person or a party rather than the person of Christ. As my friend Tony Campolo likes to say, “Mixing Christianity up with a political party is like trying to mix ice-cream with horse manure. It doesn’t do much damage to the manure, but it sure messes up the ice-cream.”
Christianity becomes toxic when we lose track of Jesus.
The Sin of Election Years
In his 12-minute address, Burns only refers to God once, and that is sarcastically to ask God to help the liberal media.
When pastors become pundits, we have a problem. It’s not just a Trump problem—it is an election-year problem.
We too often to see pastors talking more about their favorite candidate than their savior. We begin to hear crowds chanting “Trump” or “Hillary” instead of “Hosanna.” We start to sing the praises of other names than the name above all names.
Christians Need to Pause
I want to invite those of us who claim to be Christians to pause. And to set our minds on Jesus.
When we lose our focus on Christ, we begin to talk a lot about stuff Jesus didn’t say much about, and we don’t talk much about the things about which Jesus had a whole lot to say.
We have to remember that our deepest allegiance is not to a candidate or a party, but to Christ. Our politics are not primarily shaped by the donkey or the elephant, but by the Lamb. More important than Left or Right is staying centered on Christ.
I can only imagine what would happen if Christians in America took their allegiance to Christ more seriously than their commitment to any candidate or party.
There’s a beautiful old hymn whose words go like this: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness / on Christ the solid Rock, I stand / all other ground is sinking sand.”
There’s a lot of sinking sand these days. So let us stand firm in our commitment to Christ and his Kingdom. There are no red, white and blue people. And we should thank God that there are black people. And brown people. And all kinds of people. They bear the image, not only of nationalities, but of God.