Like many Americans I’ve been frustrated by the attitudes and actions of my fellow citizens since Donald Trump was elected and took office. But yet my somberness is not the same as the political angst being flooded throughout the media waves and coffee houses across the land. My frustration has to do with the body of Christ.
For some time many Christian leaders have rightly pointed out the negative divisiveness that can occur when Christ followers trumpet social issues above Christ in the world. Subjects such as gay marriage and abortion are particularly illustrative. There’s a fine balance between simply getting the word out on one hand and bombardment on the other. The truth is that some Christians went too far at times speaking truth without love. Thus, a caution was and is in order for those followers of Jesus.
At present we are seeing a growing number of Christ followers who come from social left environments now playing the same hand. They are quoting God to drive their social / political agenda home thus being just as divisive as those who have become known as the Religious Right.
I’ve seen friends who never talk about God now quoting scripture in social media as though they have a PhD in theology in order to demonstrate all the ways President Trump is wrong. Large groups of evangelicals have united in sending petitions to the Oval Office because of immigration. I know preachers who have dedicated whole Sunday sermons to social issues and one pastor even chided others for not following suite. News journals that at best are normally skeptical about Jesus are now running articles on what they believe God thinks about health care.
Indeed, many who are now screaming the loudest with the claim that God is on their side are the ones who six months ago criticized the political right for doing the very same thing. So which is it? Is one side of the social political debate on or off limits and are not both really just as divisive to the true cause of Christ? Can we just pick and choose?
It all reminds me of those cheap fast food Chinese buffets. You get to go through the line and simply pick and choose what you like and pass the rest on by. It reminds me of what many American Christ followers are doing with Jesus. Instead of working to submit all of our thinking to Jesus, have we simply picked and chosen the things Jesus said that most closely align with what we like and carefully ignored anything that contradicts our chosen world view?
So how can a Christ follower find the middle and healthy ground? How can we live first as Kingdom citizens and still walk with a love for our physical country. Here are a few questions that might help us along that road:
1 Am I honestly examining both sides of the question?
If you’re going to quote Jesus as an authority for one issue, be sure to lift Him up on the others that you may not necessarily care about or even like. One problem with the majority of our media outlets is that they are clearly governed by either a left or right preferred political agenda. Unbiased journalism is a rarity today. So if we’re truly attempting to live out the life of Christ it is imperative that we step out of our comfort zone and listen attentively and humbly to all sides of the narrative.
2 Am I making my issue their issue?
Because of some wounding in my early years I’ve always had a heart for the family social issues. Thus I tend to speak more toward the pro-life discussion and a Biblical understanding of marriage. Those are personal for me. But they are not as personal for others and there is the rub. We all have issues that for whatever reason are hot buttons for us and not for others. For that reason we can’t just assume our social issues are a God mandate for everyone. The range of potential social topics is as wide as the Pacific Ocean. You just can’t cover them all. A short list of varied hot buttons could include: abortion, Biblical marriage, refugees, world hunger, home school, support of public education, all natural foods, child vaccinations, gun control, environment, dress, entertainment choices, alcohol, and the list goes on. One or many of those issues may have a strong place in your heart. If so, then do what you can to bring healing and answers, but that does not necessarily mean it is God’s individual calling for everyone.
3 Am I keeping focus on the Big Picture?
The first Church in the Bible was predominantly Hebrew in origins. So it’s easy to see some possible tension when a vast number of Greek Gentile believers began to accept Christ. Two cultures and customs were colliding like runaway freight trains on the same track going toward each other. What’s interesting is that the apostles recognized this in Acts 15 and under the direction of the Holy Spirit did not require the Hebrew Law of Moses to be kept by the new Gentile Christians. The focus was solely on Christ. Likewise today, are we holding up issues that steer away from the centrality of Jesus and His restoration? It’s quite possible that we could actually force legislation toward our own particular passion and all the time never bring about change to the human heart.
4 Am I really helping or just yelling?
It’s one thing to talk the talk and quite another to walk the walk. When it comes to politics, it’s one thing to vote for government assistance and quite another thing to reach into our own pockets to help the poor financially. It’s easy to talk about supporting a pro-life legislation while another to actually sacrifice money and time to support crisis pregnancy ministries.
5 Am I acting and speaking in love or arrogance?
Sure there is truth to some of the issues. However the Bible clearly teaches us to speak the truth in love. If our attitude or tone projects any arrogance or self-righteousness, then it may just be better to keep and not speak at all. We may win a battle and still lose an eternal life through our misdirected agenda.
6 Am I spending more time in The Word than in Social and News Media?
There is probably not much need for commentary here. The easiest way to get further down the path of living out the Kingdom of God in the here and now is to spend more time in His Word than the world’s word. By a systematic reading through the Bible the Holy Spirit will change us and help us see more sides to the issue and how Jesus would truly act and react in our present culture.
I hope this is a good starting place. What would you add?