In light of recent political events the world seems to have shifted slightly, or rather it’s rocking back and forth subtly – like an earthquake that’s just powerful enough to knock your glass off the table but not quite enough to shatter the windows. Perhaps you have felt no difference, or perhaps you are one of those who has picked up a sign and protested alongside a diverse crowd. Perhaps you’ve read and written countless blogs or analyses on the past US election. Perhaps you’ve posted your praises on Facebook, or your sorrows. Or perhaps you’ve reacted as I have – at first in harrowing tears, and then after a sleep and a cup of tea you felt okay, almost serene. After all, this isn’t the final world, this isn’t the last call, “this too shall pass” right? And then you go to work, log on to social media, or go to Thanksgiving, and you remember – this is a different world now, something has been unleashed, something has been terribly, awfully distorted. You return home feeling a bit like Alice, as though you’ve grown a lot and shrunk just as much in very little time. You’re not quite sure where to put your feet, or your hat, or your teacup, and you’re certainly not sure of what to say next. You’re trying to live your life, day in and day out, as peacefully and lovingly as possible. But how? When there is this much adversity, this much convolution of the Truth, being propagated? How do you go on acting as if this political tectonic shift didn’t collapse your world? How do you find the balance between reacting in love and acting in defiance?
If you resound with any of these sentiments, we really should grab coffee sometime. These are the qualms I have wrestled with the past few weeks. At last, after several long runs and a few more cups of tea, I feel I have a few words to write. Now, I do not pretend to be a political science major. I am not a journalist or an economist or a campaigner. I never even ran for school government. What I am is a believer of Jesus and a lover of all people, and I desire to share my heart on these current issues. I write this not in confrontation, I write not to condemn those who voted differently from myself. I do not want to make snide jokes or derogatory comments towards those who have varying opinions from mine. I write only out of my own convictions. During my time on this earth I will strive to follow Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, though many Christians in this country will say I have abandoned my faith for how I voted. So I want to write this post correlating Jesus’ life and actions, to how we as Christians should react in this political climate. There will be a thesis with three main points, because that’s how my sophomore English teach taught me how to write.
Jesus exemplified love. He WAS and IS love incarnate. We, as Christians, have diluted our faith and our churches with so much stuff other than love. We have filled our congregations with desires for success, happiness, comfort, safety, elitism – the list is extensive – we must return to love. There are several factors within this political season that have struck a chord with the church and the secular world. For my purposes, I will focus on these – diversity, entitlement, and hatred. The vagueness of these categories may frustrate you, but I assure you it is much more frustrating to write out every single incidence of racism, violence, economic equality, sexism, immorality, and hate crimes. So, I spared you. Now Jesus’ reaction to these three issues was the same – love.
“The universality of the church was illustrated in a marvelously effective manner. White, black, yellow members of religious orders – everyone was united under the church. It truly seems ideal” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The above quote is an exert from Eric Metaxas’ brilliant biography of Dietriech Bonhoeffer, a man who dutifully loved the Lord and people in the bleakest of times. The quote refers to a moment during which Bonhoeffer is visiting a church in Rome. He is attending Mass for one of the first times, and he is confronted with a picture of diversity, different colours all under the same order, the same purpose, the same Lord. While these colours refer to religious orders, it is made known throughout Bonhoeffer’s life that he believed Heaven’s promises were for all colour’s of people as well. The words that haunted me while reading this chapter were “It truly seems ideal.” I saw a post from a conservative several days ago, he was telling liberals to go live in their “idyllic utopia and stop stomping around the real world.” At first I was angry at him for insinuating liberals do not have a grasp on reality, and then I was at peace with his demand. Of course, as a Christian, I seek the Kingdom of the Lord. I know that while I’m on this earth that kingdom will not be actualized. We as humans have done a fine job screwing up this world, it is nowhere close to being His eternal kingdom. And yet, that is what we are called to strive for – each and every day we breath this soiled air we are called to look for ways to illustrate His ideal kingdom on this earth. One simple way to do this – invite diversity into your life. Invite the spectrum of the human race – white, black, yellow, red, American, European, Asian, African, bring them all into your life and your church. Revelations 7:9 states “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” Should we not make an effort to represent eternity in our limited lives on this earth?
Several people I know have expressed pro Trump feelings via social media or other outlets. It wouldn’t be difficult to hear their remarks or read their statements if they were not also professing believers. One instance was particular disturbing. A friend of mine shared a popular article “The painfully obvious reason Christians voted for Trump (that liberals just don’t understand).” Of course, there are several comments to make from the title alone. For one, articles like this completely write off Christian liberals. I, as a Christian who votes blue, am now incapable of understanding ‘painfully obvious’ truths. In fact, I’m not even included in the “Christian” category, because I did not vote for Trump. The article went on to speak about Christian persecution within the United States. It made several good points about the American Christian’s struggle against the secular world’s regime. But it missed the point of being a Christian. It is true – being a believer is difficult. The world will not become progressively more Christian, regardless of who is president or which party has the Senate, the United States of America will not gradually become one big evangelical church. We will not be meeting for coffee and shallow conversation on Wednesday nights before returning to watching Game of Thrones, all while complaining that the foreign, secular world has become too gruesome for our liking. And yet this seems to be the expectation of Evangelical Christians. They seem to think that they’ve done their time being persecuted and trodden on in America, that now is a good time for two white men to stand in the oval office and say, “Let’s get rid of Planned Parenthood, the Christians don’t seem too happy with it.” When this is entirely against what we are called to believe as Christians. Hillary’s administration wasn’t an atheistic one, as some people believe, God’s hand is in every choice and every change. Trump’s administration is not a God send for Christians, because (despite everything else wrong with that statement) we are not promised a government that follows our agenda. No, we are promised the opposite. In Matthew 20:20-28 we read a story about a mother asking Jesus to allow one of her two sons to sit at his right hand. She desired for her sons to be honoured, to serve the Lord faithfully and be rewarded in eternity for their work. To her sons Jesus said “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” He was referring to the cup of death, a death brought about by the people persecuting Him, and the government being unable to stop them. Later in the passage Jesus says “whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If we are to truly emulate Christ’s life on this earth then we must know we are owed nothing from this world, our reward lays in heaven. We have nothing to gain from being represented by a vice president if we are not ourselves representing Christ in our actions. We have nothing to be gained by fighting the progressive acts of this secular world, if we are not loving those who think and act differently from ourselves.
John 15:20 “Remember the word that I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well.” This is our promise for this earth. As for American Christians, they need to realize that persecution is not defined by being asked to make a cake for two people who love one another. The peak of persecution is not Target deciding to make unisex bathrooms. No, those are realities that make us uncomfortable because we are aliens in this world. Persecution is when a shooter breaks down the doors to a Kenyan university and asks students if they are Christians. The Christians answer faithfully and are killed. Our citizenship does not lie in this country and the rights its constitution seemingly gives us. Our citizenship resides in His kingdom, and if you are a believer, you know of the cup you are asked to drink. So please, do not fight triflingly against the changes of this world as if we are entitled to a holiday bible school like nation. We are not promised acceptance in this world, but we are called to love its people all the same.
Lastly, hatred. I was reminded recently by my sister in law about my own hypocrisy involving love. She, of course, didn’t use the word hypocrisy but we are all our own worst critics. We were discussing the difference of opinions within our wider family. I had mentioned to her, after a comment made by another family member, that it was difficult for me to understand how professing believers carried so little love for others. She gently told me the same could be said of me – I will leap at the opportunity to defend the oppressed, the marginalized, the different sorts, the diverse, but I struggle when it comes to people who are outwardly more like me. My circle of acquaintances, here in southern TN, is largely other white, college educated, straight, church goers. And yet I have the most difficult time loving them. I’m convicted daily to remind myself that they too are His children, and they too deserve the understanding and respect I am asking them to give me. I think I have trouble freely giving them love because there is so much contempt in the words they speak, and the words of the mouth reflect the state of the heart. When I hear a Christian proudly reminiscing a bombing it’s difficult to imagine that same Christian on their knees in prayer for those affected by devastation. When I hear Christians defiantly calling for the destruction of Planned Parenthood, it’s difficult to believe they have a heart for the poor, the afflicted, the abandoned women. Planned Parenthood, incidentally, does much more good than the Christian world would like to admit. It gives treatment freely to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, an ailment the church is not quite willing to address in its monthly givings budget. (But that is, perhaps, for another post.)
And yet the Lord has called for love. He has called for us to pay our taxes, whether they are going to welfare programmes for unemployed people or not – because we are called to love those people. He has called us to fight for the oppressed and underprivileged, as He did when He walked this earth. Christ befriended all the people the modern Evangelical Christian would shun. He walked with those who had immoral livelihoods, those who had debilitating diseases, those who conned the people out of house and home. He loved them all, and called for us to love them as well. He did not call for us to cut funding, to be stingy with our charity, or to pass judgment on the secular world. He called for us to give, to forgive, to accept, and to love. This does not fit into the modern American’s practical world. It really does not. Love does not fit into the budget, but it must be given. If you desire to love the widows and the orphans, then give to organizations that are truly helping women across the country. If you desire to love the people of the nations, then give to organizations helping refugees resettle themselves in a foreign land, and open your doors for more. If you desire to love the poor and the oppressed then be an advocate for standardized healthcare and socialized education – yes be an advocate for people with more money paying more taxes so people with less money can have a better life. Listen to Hamilton and decide what you’re willing to both stand and fall for.
Now, people may have backlash to this post. They may be able to talk about the economy and the essence of the working American, all the practical reasons explaining why the liberal platform is not feasible but I do not care right now. Because the moment we choose to put wealth and security above compassion is the moment we choose to forsake our humanity. And I, while I am on this earth, will choose love and humanity, until the day I am called home.
Colossians 3:14-15 “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”