Romans 16:17-18  “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naïve people.”  (NIV)

Like most good folks, I’m fed up with those who are constantly causing division and strife across the world. They seem to think that being aggressive and uncompromising are badges of success and medals of glory. They attract both belligerent and ignorant people, who sadly become their followers and pawns, leading them away from God because they are idolized and lauded as having no faults. This is a slippery slope and something that good Christians should totally avoid. To be manipulated by smooth words and flattery is to be led into deception and destruction. It’s one of the oldest sins that there is, and it is one of the deadliest for our souls.

We need to remind ourselves that we solely belong to God’s Kingdom, so we serve Christ first and foremost. The devil effectively uses nationalism to pull people away from churches and set up their own patriotic pseudo-religion. It’s alarming to see good, hard-working, and honest people being led away by a pied piper, but it’s happened many times throughout history, so it’s not really surprising.

Jesus teaches us that God’s Kingdom is above any and all nations. It’s God’s community on earth where aggression, self-centeredness, and arrogance have no place. Speaking out against those things may lead to persecution and rejection, but that’s what the true cost of discipleship and service in God’s Kingdom entails. Faith, real faith, not a manufactured or manipulated faith, is required for true followers of Christ which means loving our neighbors and not hating them, helping the marginalized and not hindering them, supporting aliens and foreigners in our midst, not shaming or condemning them. It’s a hard task for those who are Kingdom builders, but it’s the only true way to expand Christ’s community and faithfully serve our Lord Jesus.

Q: Am I a Christian in God’s Kingdom or something else?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we try to live for You and are commanded to share Your love. Protect us from those who use deception and division to increase their power and popularity. Shape us into the Christians we should be. In Your Holy Name, we humbly ask. Amen.