Monday, November 19, 2012

Election Highlight

The past two presidential elections (especially the most recent one) have really highlighted some things for me in the current state of the "American" Christian Church. Not that everyone that identifies as Christian fits the mold of what I am saying in this little rant, but it seems much of the Church does. To be totally fair, I was part of this and still fight it frequently.

As my wife will tell you, I love to argue. Real arguments (not fighting) are just outright fun for me. So, politics and politically heated times can be very tempting to me. When I fall into the trap of political wrangling I often forget my real foundation though. I forget that I am, or I claim to be a Christ follower. So, I enter into an argument where my political logic and philosophies rule my outlook and discussion. I try to convince those who disagree with me of why my view of the best way forward for this great country is better than theirs. I get passionate about this, and these "conversations" can become quite heated. Still, these types of disconnected conversations (keeping my Christian faith somewhat out of it, relying solely on logic/economics) are fun.

The problem comes when issues that demand the tight linkage to my faith are in the crosshairs. What happens when the primary point of value of life (abortion/death penalty/war), taking care of the poor, or family values (gay rights, protection of marriage, etc.) become the topic of choice? I, and I am thinking most Christians, tend to take a totally different approach in this argument. It is no longer an argument based on logic, but turns to an argument based on our own Christian values. Then we try to turn that back to a logical argument to win over the person/group with which we disagree. If you read that and think, "isn't that how a Christian should approach things," you are asking the same thing I have over and over again. I REALLY want to say, "yes, of course it is." As I think about it more and evaluate my answer against the Bible I begin to think differently though.

The real question is this, what has your heart and mind? Does Jesus hold your heart and mind, or does the United States of America hold your heart and mind? If you place priority on Jesus as Lord over your heart/mind, then the argument over "values based" issues should take a very different form. The biggest reason for this is your desired outcome is TOTALLY different. The outcome you want when you put Jesus first is for other hearts and minds to become more like Christ while you do the exact same thing. Arguing whether or not abortion should be a protected right or 100% banned is no longer a conversation worth having when you approach it from a truly Christian heart. Ok, catch your breath, push your jaw back to a closed position, and follow me a bit longer. It isn't that I am saying abortion isn't important or that God doesn't care if abortions happen. What I am saying is arguing the legality of abortion is worthless if the other side (your "opponent") does not share the same view of the value of human life. And, if they don't share your belief in the value of human life, why don't they? I would posit an opinion holding a limited value of life indicates at best a dangerous view of Christian values. This could, and likely does end up being flat out anti-Christian. Don't like talking about abortion, then take the death penalty or war. Same approach there; war can be justified easily when it's about legal/nation views, but talk about value of human life and now we are talking about faith/belief.

Again, the crux of this is simply recognizing the desired outcome of our conversations/debates with others on sensitive matters. Asking the WHY is crucial. Why do I want to engage in this debate? If I answer "in hopes that this person votes for my desired candidate," then I clearly show my heart/head make politics/nation more important than Christ. However, if I answer, "to grow or make a brother/sister in Christ," I show my devotion to my Lord. If I have that right (correct, not politically right) then instead of engaging in political jargon, I will, with grace and love discuss with my fellow creation of God how to be more aligned to the teaching of Jesus in ALL of these issues.

If we, as the Church do this consistently maybe we find that our country starts to move back towards being a Christian-focused nation at the core. My belief is that the Church in the USA over the last 100 years (maybe longer) has traded her passion for reaching lost souls for Christ to passing laws to protect "Christian Rights." We must get back to being as bold in speaking to others about Jesus as we have been about professing our belief in which candidate/party should lead a country. If the Church gets back to making disciples who truly follow Christ, the votes will take care of themselves. And, if they don't Christian's just keep being Christians in whatever circumstance we find ourselves, even if it's like it was for the first Christians under the harsh Roman Empire.
I guess I can boil it all down to this: I want to be, and want the Church to be more passionate about being Christ-like and saving the lost than we are about our political wishes.