This is getting out of hand. In the name of national security and social justice, our consciences are being assassinated and our souls assaulted every time we turn on, tune in, log on, or click. If we don’t agree you’re immoral. If you won’t endorse you’re intolerant. If you’re red you can’t be blue, if you’re not blue you can’t be black, and if you’re white someone’s looking for a stain.
It’s time Christians realized that our issue isn’t immigration. Our crisis is not refugees, or even militant radical Islam. The Church is suffering from an identity crisis and the world is paying the price.
Politics is ground zero, at the moment. Because our instagangrenous socializations only last 140 characters and our relationships are only as strong as our network signal, this too shall pass. Soon enough we will be crucifying each other again over an ape, or a lion, or presumably something equally as noble.
Look, we need to get a grip on what it means to be a Christian. Those who have no living relationship with Christ are under a powerful delusion. Calling yourself a Christian by inclusion in a tradition, a social movement, or because we’re students of a certain doctrine is like me claiming I’m Italian. I may know how to speak a few Italian words, understand an Italian meal, or even know my family lineage, but all of these combined cannot change the fact that I am an American through and through.
For me to be an Italian, I must be a citizen of Italy. I need to prove myself; I must pass their criteria. I cannot simply visit every Sunday and Wednesday, pay some taxes (we call them tithes and offerings in church), and show up for a few procedural meetings. However, this represents a majority of Christians. The institution that is “the Church” by and large welcomes people to see themselves as “Christians” when they are really just members (the vast majority of church attendees don’t even regularly contribute financially). In truth, we are talking two totally different definitions of Christianity (ref. Ephesians 2, Rev 3:16,17).
To be Christians we must actually do what Christ did and said. Christ opted out of political arguments. In fact, he called people to task for relentlessly looking to political and governmental issues as measures of his own authority or their own righteousness (see Luke 20). Jesus established a heavenly kingdom by investing in people otherwise not entitled to any position in the political power structures of the day. If anything, Jesus’s demonstrated authority mocked human government and promised its submission to his heavenly kingdom. Imagine, he did it all without marches and rallies for justice, but with acts of unashamed compassion and love to those least deserving. Jesus was a Kingdom man, and he called us to be too. We just need to be sure we are dealing in the right kingdom (John 18:36).
Which brings me to another point. Jesus trusted his father with justice while he was on earth. He was sure of the Father’s power, so much so that he died on the cross, knowing the Father could—and would—raise him up. In the midst of such personal turmoil he gave value and love to those whom society rejected, and you never saw him take a fight for legislative or social justice to the streets. He preached repentance, offered mercy and grace, and demonstrated love. Even in that, his preaching of repentance was always led by God’s compassion, unless pointed at the power-hungry and manipulative religious leaders. I know some will bring up the money changing event, but that was an in-house issue where Jesus pointed out oppressive and dishonest leaders. Not a disciple or apostle practiced “righteous indignation” as a forgotten spiritual gift, like many of us today.
Why is it that Christians spend so much time arguing about the broken systems of the world? The vast majority of people with violently divisive opinions on macro issues have never even spent the time to build bridges with their “enemies,” which technically we shouldn’t even have. There are enemies of the cross, and spiritual forces—the powers and principalities we are to take stands of faith and authority against—but every person is to be viewed by a Christ follower as a potential child of God (Eph 6:12). Spend a few minutes eating with refugees before you decide to endorse some sweeping political movement as if you know it is the answer. It may be a viable and good position. But it is not truth, and you don’t have moral high ground. Jesus does.
We are called to be ministers of reconciliation (1 Cor 5:16,17). There comes a point where each to a man (or woman), opts out of the arguing and we become peacemakers (Rom 14:19). None of the arguing ever solves a problem (2 Tim 2:23,24). No, the political “debate” is not helping. The “intellectual” discussions are only neolithically intelligent. And like good neanderthals, those involved in the thought-tanking quickly resort to picking up the stones that shatter glass houses.
We are all entitled to an opinion and to speak out. But we are all called above what we are allowed to do; to what is profitable (1 Cor 10:23). What’s more, as Christians we are called to choose what is profitable for others. Warring and proving a point to preserve the “rights” our Bibles foretell will be stripped from us is patently un-Christlike. When you come to disagreements, opt-out of the name calling. Hear from your Father—hear the voice of truth—and do what is right with your head low and your hand outstretched. If you get bit, go to the healer, get on the cross, and intercede on behalf of your accuser.
I’m not suggesting we codify evil. I am not suggesting anyone make excuse for what is unrighteous. But it isn’t our job to build cases against the world around us. It’s our job to offer Christ by expressing love and compassion and finding a way to value the people across the table from you even when they violate everything you say you believe in. And there’s a way to do that regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. What’s more, we have an obligation to see the best and even honor those who might politically oppose us, and despite the political different, find ways to live reconciled in our spirits and treatment of each other.
Unity in diversity of opinion is much more challenging than our false nobility likes to admit.
I will carry an olive branch or a pacifier. If I cannot offer the former I will eat the latter. This is the only way. Unless I’m calling myself a Christian. In that case, the stakes rise and I’ll probably have to act like Christ.
For a Christian, refugees simply cannot bring us to crisis. Neither can our democrat neighbor or our republican boss. An economic collapse and a geopolitical conflict wont make the list either. For that matter, our atheist coworker and our perpetually offended sibling are all in the same category: an opportunity. We always know how to act, always know who to turn to, and always trust who is in control. Unless, of course, that crisis is in our identity.
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