One of the reasons I had been avoiding politics in my blog is because I knew that what I have to say would stir up a lot of strong feelings among people whom I greatly love from all political persuasions. Sometimes, though, people need to be stirred. I certainly did.
Please keep in mind, though, that — as I said in my last blog — what I write here is testimony of my own spiritual journey. I know that, for whatever reason, God is leading me in a certain direction, and that that direction is very different from where I was heading even just a year ago. He may not be leading you in that same direction. However, if you find yourself being stirred by what I write, I encourage you to prayerfully consider whether God is trying to get hold of your heart as He has gotten hold of mine.
During last year’s election season, I wrote that I considered myself a political moderate, and that I did not think we ought to think of things in terms of “liberal vs. conservative”. I still feel strongly about the second half of that statement, but for very different reasoning now. Since that time, I believe that Jesus has been radically changing my understanding of His “politics” (for lack of a better word) and it is completely changing the way I view the world around me.
I used to believe that Jesus was neither politically “liberal” nor “conservative”, but somewhere in the middle. I could not understand then why so many passionate Christians seemed to be so “extreme” to one side or the other. The lack of unity in the Body of Christ greatly disturbed me. I wanted us to meet in the middle; to see things from points of view other than our own. So I began studying the passage in Ephesians 4 about unity in the Body of Christ, and examining Jesus’ earthly ministry more closely than ever.
I know now why this line of reasoning wasn’t working, and why I couldn’t fully buy into it myself. Asking Christians to “compromise” in the name of moderation is asking them to do something that is contrary to the nature of Christ. Jesus was anything BUT moderate! When Jesus was tested by the Pharisees or confronted with questions from the disciples and others, He did not respond by working out compromises; He responded by completely challenging their way of thinking. The last shall be first, you must give to receive, love your enemies… this is radical stuff!
The reason Christians tend to feel so passionately about their political views is because we have NOT been given a spirit of timidity (2 Tim. 1:7)! But why do we see such political polarization among believers? I think it is because, once again, we are not thinking on the same plane of thought as our Lord. We have all bought into this idea that there exists a political line stretching from left to right, liberal to conservative, and that everything and everyone — including Christ Jesus — MUST exist at some point on this line.
My brethren, I have come to believe that this is simply not true. When we try to confine Jesus to our own fallible logic, we are left with an incomplete picture of our Savior. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He didn’t define a “correct” point on that political line. He exemplified a position wholly separate from our very concept of politics! I submit to you the idea that Jesus Christ was simultaneously the MOST conservative AND the MOST liberal man who has ever lived! This is no mere compromise; it is something completely different and far greater. What I had thought were moderate views were just my feeble attempt to compromise between two false choices on a line that doesn’t even exist in God’s eyes.
The two central themes of Christ’s earthly teachings were loving God, and loving others as oneself (Matthew 22:36-40). He demonstrated both these themes in His own life. His teachings to hold fast to the Word of God, to obey God’s commands and to trust His judgment are uncompromisingly conservative. He calls His followers to a higher standard of living than any of us could ever attain. His teachings on sacrificial love, mercy, and charity toward even the least deserving fellow man are uncompromisingly liberal. He calls His followers to a higher standard of giving than any of us could ever attain. His death on the Cross was the ultimate portrayal both of righteous judgment AND of sacrificial love. His resurrection was the ultimate fulfillment of true conservatism AND true liberalism taken to their final conclusion. Only at the Cross of Christ can “liberals” and “conservatives” meet, but that Cross is not the center of the political spectrum as I once believed. It is THE center. Of everything. (Sorry, having a C.S. Lewis moment here…)
I believe that Paul was reconciling this same point in Ephesians 4. When he wrote to the believers in Ephesus that, in order to achieve unity in the Body of Christ, they must “speak truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), I think they must have been having the same argument we have today. See, when Christians buy into the lies of this world, and believe that we must be either conservative or liberal, but not both, we are only representing part of Christ’s nature. I firmly believe that “conservative” Christians are right to stand up for Truth, protest corruption, and call sin what it is. But they MUST do so humbly, motivated by love rather than pure zeal for the Law. I just as firmly believe that “liberal” Christians are right to have unconditional compassion and mercy for our neighbors, pursuing social activism and justice for all. But they MUST do so with a firm grounding in and adherence to God’s Truth, rather than pure zeal for social justice.
This is what I was trying to get at in my last post. The Church is the Body and Aroma of Christ. When we fight amongst ourselves or make our political identity more important than our identity in Christ, we are not being Christ’s Body. We are being something else, and we stink. We absolutely MUST shed these labels of “liberal” and “conservative”, and recognize that none of us has got it all right. We (as individuals, as Americans, as members of a political party, as denominations, etc) must decrease so that Christ may increase.
If anything here offends you, please don’t take it personally, but don’t expect an apology, either. The last thing I want is to appear to be haughty in spirit. This blog is as much for my own benefit as for anyone else’s, but I feel that what the Lord has laid on my heart in this matter is a message for every Christian. I pray that the Lord’s Will be done, and that these words may give grace to those who hear.
*Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for the mis-spelled title of this video, nor for the Purgatory stuff in its description on YouTube, I just think it’s a good recording of a great hymn!
The Church’s One Foundation
Words by Samuel Stone, Music by Samuel Wesley
The Church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ her Lord;
she is his new creation,
by water and the word:
from heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.
Elect from every nation,
yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation,
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy Name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.
Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war
she waits the consummation
of peace for evermore;
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blessed,
and the great Church victorious
shall be the Church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union
with God, the Three in one,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.