Many Americans – especially our children—are asking why some of those people on TV storming the Capitol building were holding Jesus flags as they broke the law, injured others, and blew their shofars.
Well, I don’t know if I can explain the shofars, but I will try to address the former.
First let me make clear: What was being done by the people storming the Capitol was not of Christ. None of it. It was especially egregious and blasphemous that some were doing it in the name of Jesus. These acts were not righteous and they do not reflect any teachings of Christ found in Scripture.
It was lawlessness.
It was sin.
On January 6, 2021, we all witnessed an awful sight of thuggish behavior at the Capitol building. The needless loss of human life is grievous. But so were the “Jesus Saves” signs, “John 3:16” signs and the Christian flags and crosses being used by some in the mob as they broke the law at the Capitol building.
All in all five lives were lost, one Capitol officer, and four citizens. I also read reports of Christian music being played over a loudspeaker, if not by some in the mob then at least within ear shot.
While there may have been many well-intentioned law-abiding citizens who went to the Capitol to exercise their right to free speech and protest the election, it is also clear that there were others who clearly had horrific intentions of causing harm, promoting chaos, and inciting panic in storming the Capitol. The purpose of this article is to specifically address, for our children, those who stormed the Capitol under the name and banner of Jesus Christ.
A History of God’s People and Human Leaders
Let’s take our kids back to a story of God’s people in the Old Testament. In First Samuel we read about the Israelites demanding a king from their prophet for two reasons. First, Samuel’s sons were corrupt men, everyone knew it, and no one wanted them to lead the nation after Samuel passed away. Secondly, all of the other nations around them had kings.
Samuel brought the desire of the people before the Lord and God spoke three things in return. First, He judged the people’s desire for a human king, and to be like other nations, as a rejection of Himself as their one true king.
Secondly, He told Samuel to warn them of what having a king would mean for them.
Lastly, God told Samuel to obey the voice of the people: “And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them’” (1 Samuel 8:7).
Stop for one second and think about how humbling this interaction in First Samuel should be for those who claim to be “God’s people.”
If God’s people, the Church, believe that they can tell God what is best for them, they are not helping God, they are rejecting him. God makes it very clear in 1 Samuel (and a multitude of other places in Scripture) that it is not the place of God’s people to act as their own kings and determine what is best. Let’s teach our kids that as God’s people are called to submit to God as their King, trusting that what he determines is best. Why? Because he is God and they are not.
Point out to your kids that by human standards, the Israelites were being kind of smart. They knew that Samuel’s sons were corrupt. They knew that God was “in control.” So, they were simply telling God what they thought would be best based on the way they saw things. Were those who stormed the Capitol claiming Christ much different?
Our kids need to know that the people claiming Christianity while storming the Capitol on Wednesday were not doing the will of God, they were rejecting the will of God. They were not trusting in God’s established King, Jesus, but in establishing their desires. It did not matter how loud the Christian music was played in the background, there is no banner with Jesus’ name, nor song about Jesus’ great deeds that could cover the fact that what we saw three weeks ago was not of the kingdom of Jesus, but the kingdom of man.
The Kingdom of Heaven
Let’s point our kids to a king of a different kingdom. Look at what our great king, Jesus, did on behalf of all of his followers. In Luke 22:44. Jesus asked God his Father to remove the cup or suffering before him, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
As Christians, persons who are in Christ, we may freely cry out to the Lord with requests in regards to the things we fear, the things we grieve, the things we don’t like, the things we do not want to happen, the things we cannot fix, the things we desire. We may do this for ourselves, our families, our cities, our states, our nation, and our world.
But because of Christ, we make our requests in humility, acknowledging that the best thing for ourselves, our families, our cities, our nation, and the world is for God’s will to be done, not ours.
This humility comes from the grace we receive in Jesus Christ. This is the grace that tells us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is the grace that tells us that he who knew no sin became sin that we might become the children of God. This is the humility of a people who were once slaves to their own passions, guilty, orphaned, and dead, who are now free, righteous, adopted, and alive in Christ.
Imagine if the leaders of the Israelites had said to Samuel, “Samuel, if God is willing we would desire a king like the other nations, but not our will, but may God’s will be done.” What the Christ-proclaiming protesters were doing in the Capitol was the opposite of humility.
As New Covenant people of the Bible we are citizens of Christ’s kingdom first. We are the Church, and our allegiance is to our everlasting King, Jesus Christ. This is the true Church that crosses over the boundaries of nations and people groups. This is the true Church, made up of those who are citizens of an everlasting kingdom, with a King who is God’s own Son, of whom God says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” (Hebrews 1:8-9a)
Jesus is seated on his throne. He will never be voted out, overthrown, or deceived. As we exalt Jesus as our true king, we will be better citizens of our earthly nations.