Beware It's a Trap


For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – I Corinthians 2:2

These divisive days are bringing out the worst in pastors and churches. The devil knows just what to do. If he can get congregations and their shepherds excited about anything else except Jesus, he wins. Now, he’s not going to lure them with obvious bait, like instruments and architecture. Well… nevermind, that works too. His real genius is seducing God’s spokesmen with popular crisis and issues that at a glance seem important to the faith, but in reality are far from it!

The horrific shooting in Florida provided the perfect worm. Predictably and quite legitimately the whole country is arguing about gun control and the 2nd amendment. What gun control or lack of it has to do with Jesus’ rescue of humanity, I don’t know. But sure enough, professors and pastors, official representatives of Christianity, just couldn't let the issue disappear down their newsfeed. So they fling their expert opinion about gun rights. Maybe they are right, too. But what about the fellow who vehemently disagrees on this issue yet still needs words of hope as he kneels beside the bedside of his 12-year-old son dying of cancer? He ain’t going to listen to Mr. 2nd Amendment who has makes it appear that the resurrection and gun rights are somehow logical extensions of the Apostles’ Creed.

To those temptations Paul says, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Even regarding issues like religious freedom. Oh, that’s a favorite of Satan’s. It sounds so close to a biblical concern. The word ‘religion’ is even its title. How easy a snare is it for a pastor to swallow, hook, line and sinker as he types furiously on Facebook about the Constitution, Christian forefathers, and equating fines with head chopping.

Again, maybe he is totally right. Maybe it should all make perfect sense to everyone and would be the best stance for America. But maybe the fella visiting on Sunday thinks a cake baker should make cakes for a gay couple. Yet at the same time carries a burden of an affair against his wife. His marriage is in shambles and he needs help in this crazy world. Will he listen to a pastor talk about Jesus who seems to care more about religious liberty and marching on Washington? Or will he walk away, assuming that Jesus’ death and resurrection go hand-in-hand with one’s opinion about the American Constitution? Did Jesus die for religious liberty? Or does this man need to be liberated by the power of the cross, forgiveness and reconciliation to God?

To these temptations Paul says, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

I am sure Paul had all sorts of wise opinions about Roman society, government, etc. But the people didn’t need him to change laws or offer economic strategies. They needed Jesus. So Paul cast aside his various opinions on cake baking and the war on drugs and resolved to know only Jesus and Him crucified.

He didn’t preach the law in order to get people to make it into law. He preached it to bring real people to repentance and give them the blessed healing blood of Jesus. He didn’t preach to make the world a better place. He spoke Jesus and Him crucified to literally put them in a better place—in Christ. All these laws and all this world will be fixed soon enough, come Lord Jesus!

They need Jesus. Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, socialists and libertarians don’t need brilliant arguments about the Constitution and a free society, they need Jesus. They need the cross. They need the resurrection.

Now for sure there are people with God-given professions who can argue for good government, the 1st and 2nd Amendments and lower taxes. Let ‘em do it! It is good and right so to do. But when pastors and the church talk about it, it turns Jesus into a politician, philosopher, or pundit, not a savior! It literally robs them of the Gospel. Anathema.

I know it’s tempting fellow workers in God’s beautiful church, but let us preach Christ and Him crucified to the masses.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

It is what we have been given to do. In the end, it’s the only thing that matters!


Rev. Joel Hess is the fortunate pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cadillac, MI, where God’s reality pierces through our illusions by His Word, flesh and blood and gentle waters.  He is the author of many half written projects; a talented musician and artist.  His contributions to the Jagged Word deal with the intersection of theology, culture and the arts.

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