This post is not really about President Trump or his impeachment. It is about how Christians have been treating one another in light of the current U.S. political climate.
Christians with liberal views on American politics breathed a sigh of relief all over the United States last week when Christianity Today published an editorial entitled, “Trump Should Be Removed from Office” (click link to read). They were already thinking the same thing, but dare not say anything among their church family at risk of being ostracized and rejected.
When I read this piece I was almost brought to tears from seeing my perspective echoed by a major Christian platform. Countless times I have been asked, “How can you be liberal if you’re a Christian?” “Aren’t all Christians conservative?” I have even been dubbed by some, “My favorite liberal.” Well, as I learn more and more I have come to see the shades of gray in everything. The opinions of Christians can be as diverse as the Christians themselves. It never helps to lump people into categories and make inferences as if everyone in that category is a carbon copy. In terms of voting, I cannot in good conscience say that one party in the USA is the Christian party. What I do hope is that every American Christian examines Scripture and their conscience, and makes the decision on how or if to vote with God in mind.
Then came the swift response of nearly 200 Evangelical leaders in the Christian Post, “Nearly 200 evangelical leaders slam Christianity Today for questioning their Christian witness” (click link to read). Keep in mind the editor of the Christianity Today piece, though eloquent and firm in that one piece has otherwise not-so-Christian-brotherhood-ly labeled Trump supporters as pretty much dumb and uncivilized, so the items mentioned in the Evangelical response are referring to his comments in general, not just the Christianity Today piece.
Man.. am I disappointed. I understand their frustration with his public comments outside of the article. I’d be ticked off too. His public comments were rude and unkind. However, I believe the Evangelicals who responded missed a BIG opportunity. As Christians, when another Christian comes to us with what seems like verbal attacks, our goal should not be to defend ourselves from the attacks, or attack them back. Our goal should be to get to the heart of the issue and restore the relationship, if possible. In this case, they failed to respond in a Godly way. They cared about defending their position over the relationship. There is no olive branch being offered. They responded in a self-righteous, arrogant, worldly way. I believe one of the intentions of the Christianity Today article was to humble them into accepting how non-Trump supporters view them, and how for liberal non-Christians (as well as some liberal Christians) their devotion to this President is repugnant. Liberals long for kindness and goodness. If they can get past us Christians to know Christ then He will do all the work. Is our primary goal to save souls OR to get our party elected?
As much as I agree with the views expressed in the Christianity Today editorial, I don’t know if I agree with it being published because of the ripple effects in the church. Christianity Today drew a line in the sand by writing that article. A line which as of now subtly existed but had not been as magnified. Then in response, the Evangelicals stepped on their side of the line. But what would this look like if the Evangelicals responded with a message of unity. What if these words were included in their response?
“We are grateful that you have decided to share what is on your heart with us.”
“We disagree with your assessment, but we understand you have pure intentions and want to hold us accountable for a problem you see.”
“You have drawn a line in the sand, but we have decided to respond in a way that strengthens the church and its members with varying political views.”
“We are one church, we are one body, and we continue to be a family not despite our differences but because of them.”
What if they had responded in a Christian way?
When we are humble, that is really where God moves.
I have come across some who identify their party to be the “Godly” party. The idea that Jesus would participate in the American political system is outrageous to me. His view was so much bigger- the whole world for the whole of eternity. He would have rebukes for each party, as he does for each of us for the improper use of His name and for failing to love one another as we love ourselves. In our American bubble we have become so insulated in our thinking that we have really identified our parties as “Godly” or “un-Godly.” Who are we to make that assessment? We all must use our best discernment when participating in our civil system, but we are not the ultimate judge.
When our political views become more important to us than our Christian brothers and sisters, I believe we are participating in idolatry. Hear me out. Christian Americans are competing with two conflicting identities: faith and nationalism.
Faith in the spiritual context is defined as “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.”
Nationalism is defined as “identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.”
Scripture reminds us we are to find our identity in Christ, but what happens when we also find our identity as a citizen of a country? We are serving two masters. Though this verse specifically refers to money, we can see the point applies here too. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) We cannot allow our love for our country surpass our love for God. If you are rejecting Christians with differing political views, then that is exactly what you are doing. You are loving your country more than God. He demands we love one another. He does not demand we love our country. Jesus directly commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we rank other things above one another, that shows our hearts are not on Him. We need to be like Christ. Though many reject him, he continues to be present with open arms, inviting them back in when they are ready.
I have heard this said over and over- that liberals are so passionate about acceptance unless you believe differently than they do. And actually.. I think it’s true. We can be arrogant about our beliefs, but so can anyone else, as evidenced in the lack of humility in the 200 Evangelical leader response. It is hypocritical, but should we not be passionate about acceptance at all unless we can do it perfectly? As Christians we worship a God who is perfect and Christians are under the world’s microscope for every unkind word, bad attitude, or sinful action. Waiting until we are perfect to do good will yield zero results since there are zero perfect people. Intent and action will always be held in slight suspense as we are broken, sinful people. However, that doesn’t mean we should refrain from doing good because we are partly bad.
I have a proposition. If you are reading this, I propose that in the year 2020 you find someone who disagrees with you. Get to know them as a person and develop a relationship where you can ask one other questions about your beliefs in a safe place. Try your best to keep seeing them as a Child of God, no matter how infuriating their views.. Because if our goal is not to understand one another, we will continue lumping each other into these ridiculous categories that further drive a wedge between us.
We cannot allow our political views to divide us as a Church. Think of a Christian you know whose political views disgust you. Now remember that when you BOTH are in heaven you will be dining at the same Kingdom feast. That will be the true Christian Party.
In Christ’s Unity,