In today’s American culture, we face a problem regarding the Satanic Temple wanting to erect statues of “Baphomet” in public forums under the guise of “religious freedom” as described in the Constitution of the United States, Amendment 1. This very thing is happening in states across the nation and local governments are finding themselves hard-pressed to say “No.” Presumably, if one religion can do this, then all religions can do this. There can be no saying “No” to anyone.
Mixed messages are so common in our society that we hardly think them through any more. The result is that we miss the “mixed” part and accept the implied message at face value. Like the façade of a building (false front to imply a large, trust-worthy and successful business inside) we are drawn in by what appears on the surface. Example: the statement “made with 100% pure juice.” You might find yourself thinking the product has only 100% pure juice in it, when actually the “100% pure juice” may only be a small portion, but it does exist in the product. Hence, mixed messages.
One issue of mixed messaging must be confronted by we, as Christians. Unfortunately, the mixed messages are found on both sides of the issue. “The Satanic Temple presented…the seven-and-a-half foot tall goat-headed statue of ‘Baphomet’.” to protest the Ten Commandments monument standing in front of the Arkansas State Capitol. Other examples are also in process in other states. In Illinois the battle is around a statue which says, “Knowledge is the greatest gift.” It depicts the forearm of a young woman holding an apple which is entwined by a serpent representing the Devil.
Similarly, Scottsdale, Arizona has been wrestling with a lawsuit filed by the Satanic Temple’s Arizona chapter. The lawsuit complains that they have been wrongfully barred from delivering the invocation at a City Council meeting a couple of years ago. The message is supposedly about equity, fairness and the like. However, the real message over many decades has been, “Remove God, the Bible and prayer from the public.” This includes public buildings, public meetings , and public schools. Virtually anything or any organization paid for in part or in full by public funds should have no religious attachments at all.
As stated earlier, the problem exists on both sides. As Christians and churches, we better be ready to accept some blame for these problems. We also have put forth mixed messages both to the world around us and even to our own families and church members. How often have we stood in worship with our hands and hearts lifted to God in worship while wearing clothing advertising some vile music group or athlete who defies God, His Son and His Gospel message? When we do this, are we not sending mixed messages as to who we are in Christ? Is the message we portray confusing, at best, and tempts God’s message of love to this world? True, we do not want to become legalistic in our actions and personal priorities. Yet, have we become “Pharisees” in our acceptance of our personal contradictions in life?
Consider Jesus’ response in Matthew 22:18-22, when the Pharisees questioned Him regarding paying the poll tax (about a day’s wage) to Caesar. The tax was to paid with a denarius which had Caesar’s image and title engraved on it. Now, a good Jewish leader should have refused to own and use a denarius with the evil graven image in it. Yet, when Jesus asked to be shown one, apparently they pulled one from their own pockets to present it to Him (Matthew 22:19). Though it was considered evil, it was in common use by Jews of all stature because of its convenience. Caesar made provisions for the Jews to produce their own coinage without these images, but only in copper. In other words, it was much too inconvenient to pay the tax in “pennies” when one could simply carry a “$100” coin. Their message was a bit mixed.
It is sometimes difficult , or at least inconvenient, to really become a “people set apart” before God. Jesus answered their question with, “Give (back) to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and give(back) to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). We are to be the image of God so that we are able to give ourselves back to Him as our reasonable and living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). Have we learned how to separate ourselves out from the world that we might be true living sacrifices to God and also eliminate the mixed messages to those around us?
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