Thursday, August 7, 2014

The America First Virus

I am hereby making my break with Ann Coulter official.  I always only just tolerated her, because I’ve always thought of her as one of those conservatives who was deeply insecure about herself and just needed to be loud.  But as the result of her latest article attacking Dr. Kent Brantly for putting himself in harm’s way in Liberia, I feel convicted that I should no longer expose myself to her sanctimonious fits of rage in the name of conservatism.

But don’t misunderstand my break with Ms. Coulter as anything personal against her.  I also do not consider her a sister in Christ, so I don’t feel Jesus’ guidance on how to approach an offending member of the body applies here (the article I’m referencing uses language that makes it clear she is outside the community ofbelievers).  YES, I am judging.  The break is really a need for me, as a Christian whose journey has very much been one of leaving behind the heavy yoke of legalism and embracing a spirit of sacrificial compassion, to don the protective bio-suit from a more rampant disease infecting the church in the United States.

This disease – like all viruses – has always persisted on the countertops of our culture no matter how much disinfectant we may have at times tried to apply to it.  It is the bug of nativist, racist, and miserly ‘America First’ sentiment.  This concept of “taking care of Americans first,” or, as Ms. Coulter prioritized, “converting one Hollywood producer,” is 100% contradictory to the teachings of Scripture.

Ms. Coulter calls Dr. Brantly “idiotic” for going to Liberia and belittles him for not considering the needs first of the sick in Zavala County, Texas.  She tries to ridicule his work overseas and that of countless other American missions as vain “heroism.”  This is the EXACT SAME bitter, selfish attitude that has infested so much of the conservative movement today.  It is the same zombie-like animation that drives so-called Christians onto overpasses in protest of accommodating these Central American kids, gang members or not.

Christianity is call to complete and utter sacrifice on behalf of the destitute – the sinner in his misery.  We as Americans have a tendency to want to modify this call.  We believe we can address “root problems of poverty.”  We believe we can correct bad behavior with rules or more border patrol guards.  We believe we can motivate someone to change by demonstrating perceived rewards.

Ms. Coulter specifically calls foolish the idea that a $2 million plane flight home paid by a mission organization far exceeds any value Dr. Brantly may have given on its behalf.  This is hardcore “economic Christianity,” where service on behalf of Jesus is weighted.  It is a disgusting perversion of the cross.

In his powerful book, The Insanity of God, missionary Nik Ripken (a pseudonym he uses to protect Christians he knows in hostile nations) asks hard, gut-wrenching questions about how God works in countries that truly seem cut off from his grace.  Mr. Ripken saw this first hand as a relief director in Somalia during the mid-Nineties, experiencing not only the abject horror of life in that country after the world’s military and NGOs had abandoned it, but also the tragic death of his son.

After years of God’s work to rebuild his faith after leaving Somalia, Mr. Ripken was able to recall how he discovered the presence of Christ in a place given over to Satan and a deranged humanity.  He was walking through Mogadishu one day and heard intensely beautiful singing.  He zeroed in on the music and found a young woman leading a group of orphans in a crumbling building.  The young woman had lost her own children to starvation, but persisted in her love for Jesus by ministering to some lost children. 

A disease can't kill you if you’re already sacrificing yourself!