Americanized Christianity and “Personal Holiness”

Every preacher I have ever know has taught personal holiness.  It means that individuals must do what is right in the eyes of God, in order to please.  Only if you are personally holy, will you live a godly life.  Okay, so far, so good.

Here’s where it gets murky.  We have superimposed the American ethic of rugged individualism onto the concept of personal holiness.  We get confused when a moral situation compels us to get our hands dirty.  We, like the Pharisees of old, can not find the line of being in the world but not of it.  And, it revolves around ego centrism.  We reason: how can it be right, if my conscience is hurt?  So, we assume that if it isn’t right for us, then it must not be a right action.

Has the concept of personal holiness poisoned the american christian’s conscience?  No, but it has become co-opted by the American ethic of individualism.  It’s clear to me that if we can not work together with people of dubious morals, to affect a righteous outcome, then it would seem so.  This inability to do so is putting the self first, and that is not christian.  Individualism is not a christian idea, but rather an american one.  One with clean hands may have to work side beside with another whose hands are dirty.

Take the  example of William Wilberforce.  He had to enlist people he knew to be vile and odious members of the British parliament, in order to get slavery abolished in the UK.  He did not put his own reputation up as the standard of right and wrong.  He risked his good name for a good cause.  He knew his true allegiance lied with saving Africans from slavery, even at the cost of working with unsavory characters.

So, how can we know what’s right, if we can’t even trust our own conscience?  We Christians should decry Trump’s misogynist comments, but work with him to make america great again!  I am often shocked at Trump, but very rarely have I been offended at him.

We have to admit that he isn’t a perfect guy.  We have to pray that God gets a hold of his heart.  We have to hope that he presides over this nation for four years of peace and prosperity.  

Christians should also be the first in line to gently guide President Trump back, if ever he errs.  We must be prepared to call him to repentance and sanity.  He ran on making America great again, but sometimes his tweets are a bit base.  That being said, when he puts America first there is none better than Trump at connecting with normal Americans.

My bottom line is that we cannot be so concerned with our own reputation that we do not risk it in the service of others.  Remember how Jesus ate with the sinners and tax collectors.

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