Tuesday, January 31, 2017


[From the Holocaust Museum]

  • Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
  • Disdain for Human Rights
  • Identification of Enemies as a Unifying Cause
  • Supremacy of the Military
  • Rampant Sexism
  • Controlled Mass Media
  • Obsession with National Security
  • Religion and Government Intertwined
  • Corporate Power Protected
  • Labor Power Supressed
  • Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
  • Obession with Crime and Punishment
  • Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
  • Fraudulent Elections

Does any of this look familiar?
Notice how the top of the list is “Powerful and Continuing Nationalism”?
Notice now “Religion and Government Intertwined” is at the heart of Fascism?
Now do you understand why I wrote “Jesus Untangled” and why crucifying our politics is so necessary?

Buy your copy of Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb on Amazon today.

Please: share this with your friends. 

Pray for the Body of Christ to untangle Herself from Politics and Nationalism and return to Her First Love before it’s too late.



Monday, January 30, 2017

5 MINUTE VIDEO: Flat Bible vs Jesus-Centric Perspectives?

Take 5 minutes and listen as Keith explains the difference between a "Flat Bible" perspective and a "Jesus-Centric" perspective, and how these two views can make a difference between entanglement and being untangled from politics and the world.

Buy your copy of "Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Your Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb" at Amazon:

Want to learn more about the Old Testament vs the New Testament?


Sunday, January 29, 2017

VIDEO: Watch Former Imam Share How The Quran Led Him To Christ

This amazing testimony blows me away.

Christians have more in common with Muslims than with almost any other world religion. Muslims and Christians both believe in Jesus. They both believe different things about who He was and what He did, but what we have in common with Muslims is greater than most realize.
For example:
Mohammed is mentioned 4 times in the Qu’ran. Jesus is mentioned 25 times.
The Qu’ran teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin who gave birth to Jesus. [ch.3:34] 
In chapter 3, verses 45 to 55, the Qu’ran makes these 9 points about Jesus [whom they call "Isa"]:
·         Jesus is the “Word of God”
·         Jesus is the “Spirit of God”
·         Jesus is “the Christ” [Messiah]
·         Jesus creates life
·         Jesus cured a man born blind, and a man with leprosy.
·         Jesus gives life to dead people.
·         Jesus went to heaven.
·         Jesus is still alive today.
·         Jesus will come again.
In contrast, the Qu’ran says none of these things about Mohammed. According to their own book, Mohammed did no miracles, is not alive today and is not coming back. 
The Qu’ran teaches that God created the Universe through the Word of God.
The Qu’ran also says in ch. 10 verse 94: “If you have any doubt in this Qu’ran which I give to you, go and read the Bible, or ask the people who read the Bible. The Truth has already come to you from your Lord, so do not be a doubter.”
Finally, Mohammed himself personally wrote a letter to his followers and commanded them to provide protection and favor to those who follow Christ. It was written in 626 AD and was called the “Oath of Ashtiname” and you can read about that here.
In this Oath of Ashtiname that Mohammed wrote, he says:
“Their churches must be honored and they must not be withheld from building churches or repairing convents…They must not be forced to carry arms or stones; but the Islams must protect them and defend them against others. It is positively incumbent upon every one of the Islam nation not to contradict or disobey this oath until the Day of Resurrection and the end of the world.”

So, here we have a beautiful place to start building bridges with people of the Muslim faith. We can begin the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus has given to us by reaching out to Muslims, inviting them into our homes, sharing the blessings we have been given, and meeting together with them to talk more about Jesus.

Our house church family has hosted several Muslim people in our worship gatherings over the last ten years. We’ve prayed with them, eaten with them, laughed with them, and encouraged them by acknowledging that they are – like us – people who love God and honor Jesus.

We don't believe exactly the same things, but we have a wonderful common ground to start learning to love one another from. 

We cannot afford to respond to violence and terrorism the way everyone else does. We are ambassadors of a different Kingdom. We are partakers of the Divine nature. We have been given a new heart. We have been – and are now being – transformed by the agape love of Jesus into a people who look and act and love like Jesus.

Let’s repent of returning to our old nature when faced with evil in all its forms. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” [Romans 12:21]


Saturday, January 28, 2017


A Monumental Work on Living As a Christian in the Shadow of Empire

"In Jesus Untangled, author Keith Giles challenges all of us who follow Jesus to lay down the idols of power and patriotism for the sake of pursuing Christ's call with an undivided heart.

"I wish I could put this incredibly important book into the hands of every Christian I know.

"Read it with an open heart and mind and allow God to show you what it really means to seek first Christ's kingdom in the shadow of empire." - Jason Elam

Have you picked up your copy yet?

What are you waiting for?



After you read the book, be sure to post your review on Amazon! 


Friday, January 27, 2017


One of the most disturbing things about Christianity in America is how few Christians show any loyalty or passion for their Nation.

Instead of being patriotic and zealous for their country, they’re hopelessly distracted by things that are empty and pointless.

Instead of standing fearlessly in support of their nation’s rightful leader, they divide their loyalties and disrespectfully defy him and his authority.

Such behavior can only be described as treasonous, really. It’s only a matter of time before such brazen disloyalty to his administration is finally dealt with.

Just listen to what our leader has said about such people:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

And later:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

Jesus is our one, true leader. He is our King. He is Lord of all, and He does expect us to put His words into practice.

What’s more, Jesus has a Kingdom. Those who follow Him are ambassadors of that Kingdom. We are called a Holy Nation on this Earth and our citizenship is from above.

As the Apostle Peter reminds us:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” (1 Peter 2:9)

 Who is he talking to? To the Church! We are “a holy nation”.

As it says in Revelation 5:9-10:

“And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

This means that His Holy Nation is made up of people from across the globe: People from Syria, Libya, Australia, Korea, Pakistan, France, etc. are all now citizens of Christ’s eternal Kingdom that transcends national borders and covers the whole planet.

Again, as Peter affirms,

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

Christians in America (and abroad) must pledge allegiance to their Holy Nation alone, and not to any other kingdom or power of this world.

Perhaps the greatest threat to Christianity in America is simply the emergence of “American Christianity”? My prayer is that those who follow Christ will renew their patriotism for Christ’s Kingdom. Let us rediscover our nationalism for His Holy Nation and repent of our treasonous devotion to man-made governments and political systems.

"If anyone loves mother or father, or son or daughter more than me, (yes, even their nation) he is not worthy of me." (Matt. 10:37-39)  [commentary added]

"They did not receive the things promised; they...admitted that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:13-16)

If Jesus is your Lord; if this world is really not your home; if you are sincerely looking for a better country, then pledge your full and complete allegiance to Christ and to His glorious Kingdom. Put your whole self into His agenda to transform the world from within - one person at a time - starting with yourself. 


"Before God all the nations are as nothing;
    they are regarded by him as worthless
    and less than nothing." (Isaiah 40:17)

 Don't pledge allegiance to a nation that is doomed to fail. Don't align yourself with a political system that does not recognize the authority of Christ. 

Don't give to Caesar what belongs to God. 


My book "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb" is available now on Amazon.

NOT YOUR PASTOR'S PODCAST: Crucifying Politics with Author Keith Giles

Thursday, January 26, 2017


For the first 5 days of publication, my book "Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb" was #1 in Christian Theology/Ethics at Amazon!

It's also listed as a "Hot New Release"!

Isn't that AWESOME?!

I guess that means I'm now officially a "Best-Selling Author"?


Anyway, if you haven't yet, please pick up your copy of the book at Amazon:



Audiobook versions and Study Guide available soon. Stay tuned!


HALFWAY THERE: Podcast Interview "Jesus Untangled" with Keith Giles

Separating Church from State with Jesus Untangled Author Keith Giles

How integrated should the Kingdom of God and the leaders of a nation be? The question may seem strange to Evangelical ears when the objective of some for multiple decades has been to pass laws and “influence” political leaders. But just because this has been the case does not mean it is what ought to be.

Eric Nevins, host of HALFWAY THERE podcast, interviews author Keith Giles about his faith journey and why he wrote the new book "Jesus Untangled"


Purchase your copy of "Jesus Untangled" on Amazon today:




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What About Erastus?

In my ongoing conversation with my fellow Christians on the dangers of mixing faith and politics, people will often point to an obscure reference in the book of Romans where Paul refers to a man named "Erastus" who is praised and identified as the treasurer of the city.

Here's the reference:

"Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings." (Romans 16:23, NIV)

Some translations refer to Erastus as "the treasurer of the city"and therefore some want to say that Paul's reference to him is a de facto endorsement of Christians who serve as civil servants in positions of political power.

Their point is that Paul mentions his title as a political servant and fails to pause and criticize his involvement in political affairs. Because of this lack of rebuke from Paul, it must therefore be concluded (they surmise) that there's nothing wrong with Christians being involved in politics.


Not so fast.

First, it must be noted that the Greek word that Paul uses to denote "treasurer" (Oikonomos) is not the equivalent of the Latin word "Aedile", which refers to a somewhat higher office in ancient municipal government.

This detail suggests that he may not have actually held a high government office but was simply on par with a city accountant, although it is conceivable that he did hold a position in the city government in Corinth.

We also must note that Erastus is mentioned a total of 3 times by Paul in the New Testament. Once here in Romans, once in Acts 19:22, and once in 2 Timothy 4:20.

If we connect these references together, it seems that he traveled quite often with Paul on his missionary journeys. These journeys often took months, or even years of time.

So, while he may have originally been employed as the city treasurer (possibly at his conversion), it is very unlikely that Erastus would have continued to work as a city treasurer (if indeed this is what his job was when Paul met him) since it would be nearly impossible to imagine someone in the ancient world being allowed to serve in an elected or political position while they were also permitted to take months away from their post. Remember, there were no laptops or internet for those who wanted to "work remote".

One source I found suggested that Paul's mention of Erastus being "the treasurer of the city" may have simply been to indicate which Erastus he meant - since that name was as common a name as "John" or "Mike" is for us today.

This reference to his job title might also have been a way of letting us know what his previous identity used to be before he resigned in order to devote himself to missionary travels with Paul and Timothy.

This is confirmed by at least one New Testament scholar:

"A. C. Headlam thinks it improbable that one who held an office implying residence in one locality should have been one of Paul's companions in travel. On the other hand Paul may be designating Erastus (Romans 16:23) by an office he once held, but which he gave up to engage in mission work."

Please note that it is always a mistake to point to a lack of rebuke from either Paul, Peter or Jesus as "evidence" of their views on anything. Many Christians tend to do this when it comes to the same lack of rebuke from Peter or Jesus whenever they encounter soldiers. They assume (falsely) that this silence implies tacit approval.

If this silence or lack of rebuke for the person's occupational choices is taken to imply approval, then Jesus' lack of rebuke for the prostitute who washed his feet with her hair can also be taken as approval.


Obviously, not.

If we sincerely want to know what Jesus and the Apostles thought about being involved in the military, or politics, or prostitution, we might consider looking at the Sermon on the Mount for clues. Beyond that, we have dozens of writings from the early Church Fathers which give us ample insight into what the early Christians thought about these things.

They were unanimously non-violent, anti-military and forbid converts from ongoing entanglement with politics, war or even prostitution.

For more on this, please see my book Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb which is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble (online) and iTunes.

Purchase your copy of "Jesus Untangled" on Amazon today:




Tuesday, January 24, 2017


"In Jesus Untangled, author Keith Giles, clearly and thoughtfully challenges the paradigm from which so many American Christians view the mission of the Church. Keith takes us on an historical journey to demonstrate how the Church, and specifically American Christianity, has become entangled with politics. 

"Throughout the book we are challenged to rethink and rediscover what it really means to follow the Lamb as citizens of God’s kingdom, the kingdom of grace. 

"Jesus Untangled both challenged and affirmed many of my ideas, especially those regarding my faith and politics. The book affirmed for me what I have believed for many years and what my personal journey has shown me: Faith forced isn’t faith, and it cannot be legislated. It challenged me to seriously rethink how I will now exercise my civic responsibility without compromising my faith. 

"Jesus Untangled is most definitely a thought-provoking, and honest read, and worth the investment of your time, irrespective of your political views. 

"Thank you, Keith Giles, for this inspiring book."

- Cindy [From Amazon]


Thanks, Cindy!

So, have YOU read the book yet? 
Grab your copy here:



Post your review on Amazon and let us know what you think.


Monday, January 23, 2017

WATCH: "Keith Giles" The Documentary

Directed by soon-to-be-mega-famous film director, Braden Swope, this short documentary gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of Keith Giles, the house church he started about ten years ago, and what they do when they get together.

The film debuted Friday, Jan. 20th at Chapman University and was also shown Saturday evening at the book release party for "Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb" hosted at Fuller Seminary in Irvine.

Be sure to watch and to share the video with your friends!

If you haven't purchased your copy of "Jesus Untangled" it's #1 in Christian Ethics at Amazon!

Go grab your copy on Kindle or in Print here:

Learn more about the book at: www.JesusUntangled.com

If you've purchased a copy and read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share below.


Friday, January 20, 2017

AVAILABLE NOW: Jesus Untangled Launches Today!

The wait is over!

Today is the day to order your copy of my new book, Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Your Politics to Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb. (Foreword by Greg Boyd)



Here's what people are saying so far:

"This important book clears away the sticky webs that entangle the people of God.
It demands attention. Disagree with it. Debate it. Deal with it, or just do it...but dismiss it at your own peril.
Neil Cole, author of "Organic Church"

"In his new book, Jesus Untangled, Keith Giles reveals an unentangled Christianity that is much more than a mere separation of church and state. He demolishes the recurring fantasy of a world transformed through Christian laws and policies, and reawakens us to the truly transformative power of the Gospel. Using compelling examples of Christians throughout history, along with a sound interpretation of Scripture, Keith skillfully argues for today's church to finally lay down the sword of politics, and once again take up the cross of Christ.
- Richard Jacobson, author of Unchurching: Christianity Without Churchianity and co-host of The Unchurching Podcast

"Jesus Untangled touches some of the most sensitive nerves in the religious world. You may struggle deeply with some of the details he presents, but Keith Giles does a superb job of uncovering the lie that wraps the flag or national symbol of any country around Jesus. Our allegiance is only to the Lamb of God." 
- Jon Zens, author of "A Church Building Every Half Mile" and "What's With Paul and Women?"

"Through passionate stories, cultural commentary, and biblical insight, Keith Giles presents a good case for separating politics from following Jesus. We shouldn’t want a “Christian” nation, because no worldly nation can ever follow the values and guidelines of Jesus. The rule and reign of God doesn’t come through laws, regulations, and votes, but through God’s people living like Jesus among the people he brings around us. Do you want to change the world? Follow Jesus wherever he leads."
 –Jeremy Myers, author and bible teacher at RedeemingGod.com

“Many Americans have a tangled up view of Jesus. What is Jesus tangled up with? In three words – American Civil Religion. This is the conflating of American Patriotism with Christianity. Writing with the voice of both a scholar and a prophet, Keith Giles adds an important contribution to a growing library of books calling American Christians to pledge allegiance to Jesus. It’s an important reminder and warning about the dangers of getting Jesus (and loyalty to him) tangled up with loyalty to American Civil Religion.”
- Kenny Burchard, associate editor and primary contributor at ThinkTheology.org

"If you can't stand being challenged, only affirmed, well don't read this book!  Keith will make you think and re-think. Jesus Untangled is a helpful corrective to a tragic mistake made by both the Christian right and the Christian left: Confusing our own politics with the beautiful, transcendent mission of the church."
- Brant Hansen, radio host and author of Unoffendable

"For more than a generation in Americanized Christianity, Jesus has become so entangled in the political realm that he has become more of a political pawn to be owned by a side, than a leader to follow into uncharted territory. His message, once so counter-cultural, has been stifled, suffocated, and reduced to a tangled pile of knots on the floor of the American political scene. I can think of no better place for a Christian to begin sorting those out, and reclaiming a message that is still other-worldly after all these years, than with Jesus Untangled."
- Benjamin L. Corey, author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus

"In Jesus Untangled, Keith Giles provides a desperately needed wake-up call to the church in America, exposing the dangers of nationalism, and showing how Jesus offered a better way—the way of self-sacrificial love. This book should be in the hands of every American Christian."
- Chuck McKnight, blogger at HippieHeretic.com
"Simply stated, every Kingdom-minded believer will benefit from reading Jesus Untangled. This is especially true in the hyper-sensitized, increasingly polarized and divisive society that we live in today. In a day when everyone is drawing lines and choosing sides, Keith asks us to "Take a step back from everything you've ever been told, or seen modelled by other Christians, and try to see things from a different perspective than you might be used to." If you are willing to take an open-minded journey with Keith on the topic of Christianity and politics, you will find things that you heartily agree with, things that intrigue or challenge you, and quite possibly things that evoke a resounding, "No, No, NO!" But if you are brave enough to persevere, you will find yourself reevaluating, reassessing and possibly repenting of attitudes and beliefs you have carried about what it means to follow Jesus without entanglement."
- Dan Notti, conference speaker and blogger
"I joined the US Navy because I thought Jesus wanted me to kill America's enemies.  My faith in God was tangled with my faith in America.  Untangling my faith has been a hard journey that's taken many years.  Jesus Untangled introduces the main ideas that led me on my journey." 
- Mike Izbicki, former US Naval officer and conscientious objector.

After you've had a chance to read the book, please come back here and let me know what you think by sharing a comment.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

GREG BOYD: From his Foreword to "Jesus Untangled"

"Jesus Untangled is a clarion call for Christians to wake up
to the many ways we have compromised our distinct calling as
citizens of the kingdom of God by becoming entangled with the
affairs of the kingdom of the world. It is a prophetic call for us
to remember, and to never again forget, that we are soldiers of
God’s kingdom, stationed in enemy-occupied territory"  
– Gregory A. Boyd
Senior Pastor, Woodland Hills Church, Maplewood, MN; author of The Myth
of a Christian Nation (Zondervan, 2006) and numerous other books.

Friday, January 13, 2017

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Look inside my new book

Want to get a little taste of my new book, "Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb"?

This is your chance!

Thanks to BookGrabbr you can now download a sample chapter of my book right now!

Click here to download free sample chapters

Let me know what you think!

Ready to buy your copy? It's on Amazon right now!




Monday, January 09, 2017

INTERVIEW: Derek Gilbert talks to Keith Giles about new book "Jesus Untangled"

WATCH: View From The Bunker host Derek Gilbert interviews author Keith Giles about his new book "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb". 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Our Cultural Blind Spots

NOTE: Recently, my friend Dr. Scott Bartchy – Professor Emeritus of Christian Origins and History of Religion at UCLA – sent me two documents to examine. Both of them contained more than enough insight to fill up this blog for the next few months. This blog is one of many to come based on these new insights.


Due to our own lack of awareness about first century Jewish culture, we have been blinded to several key nuances found in the New Testament texts. 

As Bartchy points out, “Their values are not our values. Unless we learn otherwise, both professional exegetes and na├»ve readers naturally assume that our own social experiences and the cultural values with which we were raised have been generally characteristic of socially-approved human life across time and space. Regrettably, this assumption has encouraged readers…to interpret our ancient (NT) documents in ways that ignore or misunderstand the prevailing structures of fundamental human relationships in Jesus’ social world.”

He then goes on to point out that these areas of misunderstanding include concepts like kinship, marriage, patriarchy and manliness.

His paper, “Jesus, The Pharisees and Mediterranean Manliness” – which is scheduled to appear as chapter 16 in a book entitled “Teaching the Historical Jesus: Issues and Exegesis”, edited by Zev Gerber – goes on to masterfully demonstrate how several of Jesus’ commands and teachings are typically misunderstood by modern commentators and bible teachers. The main reason for this blind spot, he says, is our lack of understanding the “Shame/Honor” values inherent within first century Jewish culture.

The tension that arises between Jesus and the Pharisees, Bartchy says, is primarily caused by Jesus’ subversive teachings and actions that sought to undermine the prevailing culture of the day, which the Pharisees were deeply entangled with.

In this shame/honor culture, Jesus seeks to redefine what makes for honor and shame in His Father’s Kingdom, or “When God rules all things”.

In short, Bartchy’s point is this: The way the Pharisees – and every other male in the first century – behaved was normal behavior. When they sat at the place of honor at the table, it was what they were all trained to do since birth. When they asked their Rabbi if they could be given the honor to sit by his side, this was totally acceptable. When they sought to be recognized by others for their wisdom or authority, this was how everything was supposed to be.

Simply put, the first century Jewish culture of Jesus’ day was based on shame and honor. Males were trained early on to bring honor to themselves – and therefore to their family name – at all costs. They were also trained to avoid being shamed for the same reasons. Every male of Jesus’ day was either working to be seen as honored or striving to avoid being placed in a position of shame.

When we see Jesus rebuking the Pharisees flaunting their honor in the marketplace and praying in public, for example. This is what everyone in that culture would have expected them to do. It was not seen by anyone at that time as prideful, arrogant or rude. That is, not by anyone other than Jesus, of course.

Jesus shows up and right away challenges this status quo. It was Jesus who was seen as rude for condemning these men of honor for behaving normally. It was Jesus who was seen as behaving oddly when he rebuked the Pharisees for inviting honorable people to their banquets rather than the lame, the blind, the poor and the sick.

Jesus was the one that everyone in that culture would have perceived as being rude, arrogant and yes, possibly even prideful. Or at least they would have seen him as someone who had little authority to point to those who had honor and claim that in reality they had none.

“The goal of male socialization,” says Bartchy, “(was) to add honor to the family name. (Because) honor was by far the most highly prized possession. How much honor anyone deserved depended on one’s peers’ perception and their public acknowledgement of one’s authority, gender status and reputation.”

Bartchy goes on to describe two forms of honor in this early culture: Ascribed honor and Acquired honor. The honor inherited from one’s family was the ascribed honor one was born into. The honor one might receive by competing with other men in the culture was acquired honor. Both were very important to have and to cultivate.

“Thus, seeking greater honor for oneself and one’s family was the fundamental life task of every adult male, and traditional male socialization produced human beings who were programmed to pursue a neverending quest for greater honor and influence,” says Bartchy.

It is in this context that Jesus’ words to his disciples – “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” – rang out like nails scraping loudly down the world’s longest chalk board.

“The vast majority of commentators…have ignored the cultural appropriateness (when James and John ask to sit at Jesus’ side in the Kingdom) seeking honor,” he says.

As a result, most everyone has missed the incredible forcefulness of Jesus’ teaching as it cut against the grain of acceptable masculinity in the first century Mediterranean cultures.

One also must take into account how little of this honor Jesus himself had – from both ascribed and acquired varieties: The identity of his birth father was questionable. His family standing was automatically in doubt due to where he had grown up (“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46).

Normally, a young male in this situation – with so little ascribed honor – would feel immense pressure to work for acquired honor in the eyes of everyone around him. “Yet…rather than seeking honor for himself,” Bartchy notes, “Jesus was prepared to be humiliated rather than to compete for honor and play the traditional male game of one-upmanship.”

Beyond this, Jesus went further to teach his own disciples to ascribe honor to others and to work to help those without honor to acquire it.

With all of this in mind, listen as Jesus stands on the mount to preach a sermon that proclaims honor upon those who are humble, and those who give comfort to others, and those who practice mercy, and those who make peace. Listen as Jesus defies the honor-seeking culture of His day to declare that God only honors those who have none, and those who don’t want any, and those who only work to bring honor to those people around them who will never, ever earn – or even deserve – honor in their own society.

Bartchy also points out that one New Testament scholar, K.C. Hanson, “forged a major breakthrough in understanding the famous ‘Beatitudes’…when he applied his knowledge of both ancient Mediterranean cultural values and Hebrew and Greek philology to his translation of the Greek word “macharios” (traditionally rendered “blessed”)..(as) “honored.”

Therefore, Jesus’ words, “Honored are the merciful. Honored are the poor.” Etc. take on new and fantastic implications for us. Now we see that Jesus is rewriting the rules and creating a brand new set of cultural values that stand in direct contrast to those considered normative in his day. By saying that the poor are honored, and the peacemakers are honored, Jesus is saying that God uses a totally different set of values for deciding who receives honor and who receives shame. God’s Kingdom honors the humble, not the proud. His Kingdom honors the poor and the outcast, not the rich and the influential.

What must be stressed is that there is nothing specifically “Pharisaical” about seeking honor for oneself during Jesus’ day. Everyone operated under these rules. It was the status quo and no one questioned it.

No one except Jesus, that is.


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Revival, Resurrection and Reality

Maybe there’s something wrong with me? 

I already know that I don’t quite fit perfectly into the usual American Christian Evangelical mindset. That’s why I blog about things that often get me into trouble, or invite criticisms from those who disagree with my skewed views.

I think I'm also cursed to always see things from a slightly different perspective, and whenever I share that perspective I'm often blasted for it. But, I can't help myself.

So, when I see thousands of Christians gathering in a stadium for a revival, it doesn’t really resonate with me. Maybe because I don’t really expect God to perform for us on command. Or maybe because I don’t believe that God is impressed by large crowds.

Jesus seemed to always be trying to get away from large crowds, not looking for ways to attract more people. Jesus seemed to care more about those one-on-one conversations with lepers, or prostitutes, or outcasts, or women who most people ignored.

Big events don’t move me, and so I guess I tend to assume that they don’t move God either. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe I’m not. I’m just sharing my gut reaction to big-scale events where people equate a trending hashtag with spreading the name of Jesus – especially when that hash tag doesn’t contain the name of Jesus.

 The bottom line is that I’m not in the place to judge anyone. I know that. No one needs to clear anything with me before they host a large Christian gathering.

If this event ignites someone's heart to follow Jesus more fully in their day-to-day life, then that's a very good thing.

But, if it leaves us empty after the emotional high is over and people are unable to see Christ in their sometimes mundane reality, it might create a dependence on emotional experiences rather than keeping us focused on the reality of a life-changing daily relationship with Jesus.

I’m just saying that if Revival truly comes to our nation, it will probably be in the quiet solitude of a prayer closet and not up on the Jumbo-Tron screen. At least, that’s where most Revivals begin, historically.

Can God do whatever He wants? Well, obviously. Yes, He can do whatever. And maybe if He really wants to get our attention, He’ll have to show up to one of our stadium events because that’s where most of us are looking.

But typically, God seems to love to do things differently. He seems to prefer to defy our expectations and to upset our status quo.

If nothing else, maybe we should keep our eyes open for Jesus in the unexpected places, off the main stage, outside the coliseums, in a quiet place, with a still, small voice calling out in rooms where no one is recording anything on their iPhone or live-Tweeting the play-by-play.

Revival, for me, is a word for a people whose hearts are broken. A person whose soul is ripped down the middle at the sight of all the suffering that surrounds them.

Revival is essentially a word that calls attention to the reality that something that is dead needs to come alive again.

Maybe we don’t need another revival meeting. Maybe what we need is more like a resurrection.

A resurrection doesn’t have a soundtrack or an official t-shirt.
A resurrection is simply a miraculous burst of life in a dark place.

When people who are hungry for Jesus and moved by Jesus are willing to go out and act like Jesus in a world that is desperate for Jesus, then we can honestly say that we have experienced a resurrection.

I’d love to host a “Let’s Go and Do the Stuff Jesus Did Conference"
where thousands of Christians spread out over the city
and break into groups of five or ten
to visit children’s hospitals
and pray for cancer patients
and give hugs to the homeless
and reconcile with their gay brothers and sisters
and pray a sincere blessing for their President
and repent publicly from seeking to change the culture through political power
and maybe take up an offering to feed the poor and house the mentally ill who sleep on our streets every night.

Now, that’s the kind of revival I can get excited about, and it just might deserve to go viral on Twitter, too.

What do you think?

Monday, January 02, 2017

QUIZ: How Entangled Are You?

Here's a quick test to find out how entangled your faith has become in politics, and where you might need help getting untangled.

Ask yourself:

Can you imagine following Jesus apart from your politics?

Do you find it intolerable to listen to anyone who disagrees with your political convictions?

Are you more upset when someone disrespects your nation's flag than you are when they misrepresent the teachings of Jesus?

Has it ever occurred to you to ask why the American flag is always flown above the Christian flag?

Would you give up being an American for Jesus?

If Jesus asked you to give up being an American and to stop pledging allegiance to your nation's flag, would you do so? How would that make you feel?

Do you believe that God has blessed America more than any other nation on earth?

Are you convinced that America is a Christian nation?

Are you willing to fight a war in order to defend your nation, even if you know that doing so may result in the death of other Christians who happen to live in the nation you're fighting?

Have you ever argued with another Christian about differences in politics and decided not to fellowship with that person due to your differing views?

Do you often discuss politics with people whom you have never - and would never - talk to about Jesus?

Do you believe that one political party is more "Christian" than others?

If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, you might be entangled.

Hopefully my new book will help identify entanglements and clarify how best to navigate your way towards more freedom in Christ. 

What do you think of these questions? Can you think of any other ways we can test our entanglements?

Please share in the comments below.