Lately, most of my rants have been addressing politics. Why? Because that’s what has got me so heated lately. A #SighofFrustration has predominately taken residence on my twitter feed for several reason, but mostly due to the political debacle I see unraveling.
Before this year, I simply avoided politics. I certainly measured up to many of the stereotypes proposed to the doom-and-gloom, Armegedon type theorist. “Why even get involved in politics? It’s so far gone, it’s just a sinking ship.” Trying to find the balance of how I can make a difference has been both challenging and rewarding. So today, I want to encourage and challenge you to take a close examination of the political positions you hold so dear, the scope of your impact has in society, and the lessons I’ve learned in my journey along the way.
Why is it that we only get involved in the issues that directly affect us? I know a lot of pastors who would never speak to the everyday political misdeeds in government, but when a law is passed to allow gay people to get married, or when protestant churches are deposed from public schools, and when a mandate suggest that catholic school have to provide birth control to it’s staff, all of a sudden the restraints are broken and the gates are open for political attacks.
Why is it that we remain silent about the other injustices in the world, but only speak to the things that directly concern us? I’m not suggesting that the government is right to promote such actions, but when we only activate our political fervor over a few issues that affect our self interests, we diminish other areas where we were meant to be an influence as well. This reveals the selfishness of our sin nature – to only consider the policies that relate to us. This paints a negative picture of what it means to be considerate of our neighbor. It certainly is not behavior that is worthy of the gospel.
Everyone is concerned with their own self interests. Those on food stamps and social security cannot be expected to vote against their source of income. Those who struggle every day to provide for a growing family cannot be expected to be happy about giving over 30+% of their income. True Christians, however, ought to be distinctly different. They should consider their brother not only with their policies but with their words and actions as well. Overtly attacking the welfare state without addressing how we ought to care for those who have been brought up in the system is not only cold, but it is fruitless. It only heeds is dividing, not restoring.
This doesn’t mean we should ignore the problem. Doing nothing to address ad destructive system that is destroying our economy is not the more loving approach. We should fight, however, with their best interests in mind, and not just our own. But when we’re fighting for their interests and offending them at the same time, we’re sort of defeating the purpose. There’s a way to address the problem without attacking the individual. Don’t confuse the two.
I’m reminded of the first Baptist community to be established in Rhode Island. Roger Williams noticed a problem that was taking place in the surrounding communities. Those labeled as witches were being burnt at the stakes and no one could play an active role in society unless they were an upstanding member of the church. Roger Williams saw the injustice of this and became the first American pastor to separate the church and state. He fought for equal rights for witches and pagans when everyone else was attaching his positions. He provided a safe haven for those rejected by the rest, and do you know what happened? Baptist principles became the largest protestant denomination in America today.
Our constitution owes a great deal of thank to it the principles laid out by Roger Williams. We can all worship in freedom without discrimination or persecution. But there is an aspect of Williams’ approach which has been lost with time. He fought for the rights of those unlike him. Where would we be today if it wasn’t for the Williams’ and Wilberforces’ of our history? We can disagree with what the world thinks, but we ought to be willing to die for their right to think it freely. That singular idea is what made America distinct from every other country in the world, and it is the primary force which made her strong. Take that away, and you destroy the foundation of our liberties.
Many evangelicals today consider homosexuality as the greatest threat to our society. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorah, right? No society in history has ever been established on the premise that marriage could be defined by anything other than a man and a woman. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is not the most destructive culprit in our society today. The truth is, this is just another sin that is given more attention than it deserves. The real problem is that we have lost the spirit to defend each others rights. We are more focused on defining marriage (in essence a limitation of rights) than demanding the government cut back on our debt.
We should be purposeful in our politics, not just protective of our values. We should understand what the Bible teaches clearly and accurately, not just assume our Judeo-Christian values are inherent. We should be concerned with how our actions represent Christ to a world who has a low view of God and a negative view of the Church. We must take a stand for what is right, but not at the expense of making our position repulsive to our opposition. We should strive in every way to live at peace with all men, all nations, all creeds. We must consider our neighbor more highly than ourselves. There is a way to promote change which brings dissension, and there is a way to effect change that brings collaboration. Don’t confuse the two.