Not Jesus and. Not Jesus or. Nothing else.
It’s not popular right now to say this even in Christian circles. We want “Jesus AND justice,” or “Jesus AND equality,” or “Jesus AND our freedoms,” or “Jesus AND a republican president,” or “Jesus AND any other president,” or “Jesus AND [insert blank here].” But sweet friend, it’s just Jesus.
You and I can only find what we need in Jesus. Never Jesus and. It’s just Jesus. You and I can only find what our hearts ache for in Jesus. You and I can only find what fulfills us in Jesus. You and I can only find our freedom in Jesus. You and I can only find true equality in Jesus.
Our answers are not in a broken political system miraculously voted into wholeness. By all means - GO AND VOTE! But remind your heart at the polls, “My hope is not found in this booth or in the White House.” It’s just Jesus.
Our healing is not found in a morally driven awakening and reckoning of our culture and society. We aren’t whole because everyone’s eyes are opened. You are whole because YOUR eyes have been opened by Jesus. It’s just Jesus.
There is no healing a heart desperately needs that can be found outside of Jesus. There is no brokenness of mind that can be fully mended outside of Jesus. It’s just Jesus.
Now don’t get it twisted. Don’t read what I’m not saying. I am NOT saying that Jesus doesn’t use politics. I’m NOT saying that Jesus doesn’t use therapists. I’m NOT saying that Jesus doesn’t use outside resources to accomplish his will. Of course he does. But there is danger, because our hearts of flesh are desperately wicked, when we say “Jesus AND”… we tend to put Jesus to the side and grab onto whatever we can physically see right here in front of us. Whatever we can physically touch and hear and smell and taste. If there is no “Jesus AND”, we go straight to Jesus. He’ll open and direct us to whatever door we need to walk through - whether that be therapy, the voting booth, a march, or anything else. But, friend… it HAS to be JUST JESUS first. Above it all. Beyond it all. Through it all.
We have wrapped so much of our destiny and hope and joy and wellness in the direction and morality our culture will choose in the coming weeks/months/years that we are drowning ourselves in unending sorrow right now. Why? Because that destiny, hope, joy, and wellness has become dependent on culture thinking the way you think they should think… the way you are probably convinced God thinks. The way you’ve been conditioned to think. Brought up to think. Encouraged to think. Convinced to think. Persuaded to think. Threatened to think. Told to think.
A few months into COVID-19 and a few days into the racial unrest our country is in once again, I began losing sleep. I would lay in bed with my heart so heavy I couldn’t hardly move or breathe or think clearly… all I could do was weep. I didn’t have words to tell the Lord… I didn’t have words to tell myself. It was just pure emotion pouring out of me so heavy that words were not strong enough to carry it. One night, I finally asked the Lord, “What can I possibly do? I am no one. I am a nobody little white girl in nowhere, USA. What could I possibly do, Lord? This is so much bigger than me and I cannot stand that I cannot fix this or even know how to begin to help heal this terrible pain. I cannot bear it, Jesus. HELP ME PLEASE!”
Almost right away, I heard the voice of the Lord say, “scripture.” It startled me, to be truthful. It wasn’t a sentence. It wasn’t a hug. It wasn’t a “it’s going to be okay, baby girl.” It was one word that seemed somewhat removed from what I was trying to talk to Him about… “scripture.”
Isn’t that the problem? That I would even think SCRIPTURE sounded disconnected from my pleas?! Oh Lord, forgive me! Had I really allowed my heart to become so overwhelmed and my mind so clouded with circumstances that the Word of God was not cutting through the noise? That the Word of God seemed an ill-fitting answer to my prayers? Jesus, renew my mind once again. But ask yourself right now - don't skip over this - is scripture directly connected to your mindset right now? Are you first turning to the Lord's Word for answers, or are you perusing FB, Insta, Vice, Buzzfeed, Fox, CNN, your woke friend's social media posts, that christian leader you follow, etc. for answers first? Be ugly honest with yourself.
After the embarrassing shock wore off, Holy Spirit began to flood my mind with scripture after scripture, passage after passage, verse after verse. I didn’t see how all the puzzle pieces fit together initially, but I was obedient to write them down and meditate on them. It only took about 3.7 seconds to recognize that all of the scriptures Holy Spirit brought to me were centered on praise. I could feel the Lord refocusing my thoughts and heart toward praise instead of the problems of race, politics, and a virus.
I wanted to know what I could possibly do to help. His answer?
Read the Word and praise Him.
I don’t need to show up at all the right rallies and marches. I don’t need to make sure the right person is in the White House (The Word says all authority on heaven and earth has been placed by God, right? That can be a difficult verse to understand and swallow, but I have to accept the truth of His Word even if it is not comfortable or popular or palatable). I don’t need to write the most virtuous (signaling) words on social media or share the right posts. I don’t need to prioritize ANYTHING except HIS WORD and HIS PRAISE.
So for a few days, I hopped off social media (I think I need to do that again… can I get an amen?) and turned on some worship music. I poured over the scriptures He brought to mind, particularly one passage in the Old Testament. I allowed the TRUTH and POWER of God’s Word to transform my thought life from one that was fraught with anxiety and fear and sorrow to thoughts full of hope and destiny and future.
The story in scripture I was stuck on was the story of King Jehoshaphat winning the battle against 3 enemy nations (2 Chronicles 20). They were already inside the boundaries of His Kingdom, positioning to attack Judah. He brought all the people together to pray and fast. Notice this… He didn’t gather armies. His go-to-move wasn’t to do what most logical leaders would think of - send out troops. He brought the people together to pray and fast. It was then that the Spirit of the Lord gave a prophetic word through a man name Jahaziel (meaning “God Sees”) telling the people exactly where their enemies were located and instructed them to go there and stand firm while they witness the Lord win their battle. He didn’t ask them to fight. He told them NOT to fight! Jehoshaphat was so convinced of God’s words that He sent a bunch of musicians - not warriors - to the frontlines of battle and told them to sing praises thanking God for winning the war and defeating their enemies. So they did. And all of their enemies ended up getting confused, attacking, and killing each other until there was no one left. The people of Judah then took three whole, entire days to gather up all the loot from battle. They didn’t have to kill and destroy and take it from their enemies. God took care of their enemies when they trusted the truth of His Word and just praised him! Then He delivered all of that treasure right into their hands… so much it took three days to gather up!
I can’t help but see so many parallels to today in this passage and I keep thinking, “Oh Lord, are we doing this wrong?” I believe God wants us to fight the battles in our country with the truth of His Word and with praise on our lips... and we have to remember that the battle belongs to the Lord. The victory is His! HE will win this battle because He wins every war He wages. We need to let Him fight for us while we just praise our hearts out and hold fast to the truth of His Word.
Everyone is all about speaking truth to power right now in our country. And I think the Lord just gave me a revelation… for me (and probably for you). As a follower of Jesus, I need to speak truth to power too...
I need to speak GOD’S TRUTH to the power of sin. I need to speak GOD’S TRUTH to the power of addiction. I need to speak GOD’S TRUTH to the power of fear and anxiety. Because of Jesus, those things have lost their right to hold me back, down, or under any longer. And I need to take back what is rightfully mine as a child of God: FREEDOM from sin, FREEDOM from addiction, FREEDOM from fear, FREEDOM from depression, FREEDOM from anxiety, FREEDOM from control, FREEDOM from the opinions of others and what I’m told I should think/feel/say/act like during all of this mess our country is in.
Listen. I could sit here and try to tell you all the things I think God wants from his children in this moment in our nation. I could write and point out verse after verse of what the Word says about this or that. I could talk and talk until I’m blue in the face trying to convince you to do this/say this/think this/be this because it’s righteous or most Jesus-like or whatever and try to use scripture to back up what I’m saying, but here’s the deal…
YOU have to decide what you want to prioritize. If it’s Him - I want to encourage you, before you do anything that feels/looks/sounds like the most righteous thing… stop. Go to his precious Word and spend time in praise. Fast and pray. Let HOLY SPIRIT tell you what your next step is. Don’t let society convince you of anything. Don’t let your political affiliation convince you of anything. Don’t even let your own moral convictions convince you of anything. The Word tells us that the heart is deceptive and desperately wicked… who could possibly know it?
Let the power of the Word of God and time in praise convince you.
Then go obey. Because the only One worth our obedience is not “Jesus AND”…
It’s just Jesus.