I’ve been mulling over my latest post this past week and while the words read clear to me, there begs some clarification. In trying to be creative or compassionate without making too stark a statement, we can end up being confusing.
So let me try and say in plain speak what was perhaps clouded in too many words.
I am tired of the yelling. I’m tired of the harshness that has entered our conversations and our online comments, even among those who claim to follow Jesus. Or perhaps especially among them. We who have been shown much grace should in turn offer it to others with whom we disagree.
I’m frustrated by churches that shy away from standing in the tension of speaking truth in love, even if they might stumble and have to apologize for not doing it perfectly. Have people in the pews become more important than souls in heaven, and the risk of offending the greatest sin?
I’m annoyed at hearing that to take a stance on anything is to be harsh and judgmental, no matter the measured reasons or truth of the position. To say the former is in fact to be judgmental and make a value statement in itself but that appears to be the only judgement that is permitted without criticism.
I’m irritated at the inconsistencies I see constantly in positions friends and strangers will take on one issue and yet not on another, at how they will speak out in one area and then remain curiously silent on another. But then I think they probably look at me and wonder the same.
Our conversations have been reduced to scrolling through digital highlight reels, rarely looking someone in the whites to get the full weight of what they’re saying or to ask the follow-up questions and stay in the uncomfortable moments. We’re quickly losing (if we haven’t already lost) the ability to have conversations instead of stand offs, the opportunity to work out our thoughts aloud, to back-track and change our minds and say we simply don’t know yet.
I want consistency in my values and that of others but the issues are coming so fast and with so little chance to dialogue, to listen and learn before making an opinion that it’s hard to know where to stand. A person can’t keep up and still stay engaged in the daily running of their life. I can spot the contradictions when I see it in others but I don’t always know how to reconcile them in myself.
It’s hard some days to remember that I don’t belong to a political party, I belong to a Heavenly Kingdom. And that in trying to follow close in the footprints of Jesus, I’m seeing more and more that I won’t land as just a Republican or Democrat.
Because Jesus would probably look more like a Democrat when it comes to immigration and more like a Republican on abortion. He would applaud both sides for wanting to help the poor and probably tell us we’re both going about it a bit slanted. He would overturn the money changing tables of our political conventions and back room deals and never stop praying for and desiring the best for our leaders, regardless of party affiliation.
He would consistently love the person even while he straight addressed the sin, a balance I’m still struggling to find in my speech and heart. Because I too need grace from others to be seen as more than my flaws and stumblings. But it’s not love if the people around me leave me stumbling around with a two by four wedged in my eye because they’re afraid I’ll feel bad. So when we say we want to love someone but we’re afraid to have the honest and messy conversations about right and wrong, and what’s good and what hurts, we’re really just looking out for ourselves, others be damned.
The only answer I keep coming up against when I sit with this jumble of head and heart is that as a Person of the Cross, I need to get my positions from One person, not a party. I need to sit regularly and pray over the issues, pour over scripture and then discern how to act based on what I know today. There will be issues that will be foundational to how I vote and act, and they may differ from what moves someone else.
The beauty of the Body of Believers is that we’re all fired up in varying ways that complement so that a whole hurting world gets loved on and cared for. But we should constantly be asking God what He thinks instead of looking to a handful of politicians to define our values or staking our positions based on what feels most comfortable to us. Chances are good that if it’s comfortable and comes easy, it probably isn’t completely on the mark of where we’re meant to be and how we’re meant to live.
We don’t get to ignore the issues or pretend that because something has become political, the Gospel doesn’t have anything to say about it or demand an answer from us.
I will never fit neatly into a box. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, neither will you. It’s part of the package. We owe it to the world and to our faith to stop lining up with a particular side of the political aisle and instead do what is required of us: seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.