You know what makes me want to hide my lamp under a bushel these days? Politics. The current political climate in America is heaping baggage on us believers today. The constant confusion on where to stand, is it on the right or left? There’s the screaming of conflicting voices trying to draw hard lines between right and wrong, when to kneel, when to stand…. There’s the buzzfeeding, the clamoring, the fighting, the tweeting, the pointing of fingers… Who is foolish? Who is righteous? Why are we even fighting these battles?
Ugh! See, I’m exhausted and I’m only one paragraph in! Let’s take a break and breathe in some scripture:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:31-5:2
When I was thinking about what to write about this week (concerning the theme of what hurdle most impedes my faith and the ability share with my anti-theist friends), I turned to discuss with a friend of mine the big hurdle of: Christianity and politics. She put her thoughts this way: “Hurdles I face now [are] in STAYING with Christians…namely the 80% of evangelicals who voted for Trump, thus propagating the stereotype of Christ’s followers as arrogant, exclusive, racist, unaware, unintelligent, etc. You probably can’t write that, huh?”
Well, what if I did? Maybe this battle needs to take place within the context of knowing that hope is hard. I cannot help but wonder: have we Christians esteemed our stance on individual issues above our hearts steeped in Jesus-following values? The current state of our religious landscape in America frankly, frightens me. And sometimes, it leaves my faith cowering in the corner of my heart. Christianity enmeshed in the current political climate, makes me (as a white American Christian) fearful of what my atheist friends likely assume of me.
When politics start to impede my faith, it’s time to talk.
My friend went on to wonder if maybe this current political climate has something to do with “the church aiming/trying too hard to be cool, which waters down message of holiness.”
I got to nodding… Yes, yes, holiness – that’s the answer, hope for holiness! My nodding continued as my friend questioned: “Have we lost our ability to disagree and truly love through important conflict? What if the church could engage in thoughtful, honest, humble, loving dialogue?! How refreshing would that be to our scared, stifled world?”
Before we engage, maybe this is right where we need to be, my friends: scared stifled. And if there’s hope that we can change the landscape of current politics, maybe we need to take notice of our own cowering hearts. Perhaps the humility needed to recognize and own our own fear precedes this process of holiness. And if we want any chance of stepping up to the call of holiness, I argue we have to prayerfully and in reverence take that fear to the feet of the Lord.
What if we followed Christ’s example and gathered our scared and stifled friends to pray?
Let’s ask God for His will above our own desires, so that we can work with Him to extinguish the quarrel and fight.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3
As my friend went on to ponder: “Why can’t the church be a people scared sacred by all the oppression and conflict and hatred? “
Friends, let’s allow fear to push us into the sacred today. Let’s recontextualize our engagement to one another, step outside of the political climate, and instead step forward in sacred hope for holiness to reign above politics.