While Democrats, Republicans, and also-rans work hard to dissect the implications of the recent elections, I hope that we as Christians do not spend so much time debating partisan politics that we miss the opportunity to evaluate our own recent behavior in the ever-penetrating light of Scripture.
In a pre-election blog, I wrote about my deep sadness over the political divides in the Church and the unchristian-like character that the election fights illuminated. My sadness continues in the post-election gloating and fear-mongering that I have seen from both our pulpits and our pews.
If Jesus, the suffering servant, taught us nothing else, He clearly illustrated that we are to “serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal 5:13) Although the world around us is literally on fire from opposing cultural views, we are called to be salt and light. We, like Noah, are to have a preserving effect on the world we live in and are to reflect the light and truth of Jesus to everyone. Frankly, that cannot happen when we fight flesh and blood instead of principalities. (Eph 6:12) This is especially true when the flesh we are fighting is each other.
Visceral, reactionary responses often feel good and justified in the heat of battle. In the absence of self-examination and reflection, we can even develop an ongoing self-righteous attitude about our beliefs. We can feel that our views are vindicated by the forces of modern events. We, however, are a people out of time. We belong to a God that is not influenced by man’s petty disputes, and who does not change with the fickleness of societies. (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8)
The fundamentals of Christian living are truly radical when compared to the cultural currents of our day. The Apostle Paul tells us that we should, “not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is.” (Rom 12:2)
Before we can get to that kind of mental transformation, however, we must present our bodies (where we go, how we act, what we say, etc.) as a “living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.” (Rom 12:1) Quite simply, if we do not submit our actions to God, our minds cannot be transformed and we will not understand the will of God. We will live by the feelings that rise up in our flesh and quench the still small voice of God.
The remainder of Romans 12 is life giving. It provides some very profound guidelines to our relationship with the rest of the Body of Christ:
• Don’t think too highly of ourselves
• Value the gifts / contributions of others and see ourselves as one small part of a much bigger reality
• Love without hypocrisy
• Hate what God hates
• Hold on for dear life to what is good
• Be devoted to one another
• Give preference to others over ourselves
• Honor and humbly serve each other
• Rejoice in hope
• Persevere in tribulation
• Be devoted to prayer
• Be a dedicated giver
• Be hospitable
• Bless those who persecute us
• Rejoice with those who rejoice
• Weep with those who weep
• Don’t see ourselves as better or wise
• Never pay back evil for evil
• Respect what is right
• Never take vengeance
• Make every effort to be at peace with everyone
• Let God handle the Vengeance
• Overcome evil with good
When it’s laid out like that, I suddenly realize how much work I have to do. It doesn’t leave much time or space to respond to the current cultural moment at a human level or with human tactics. I must reach both deeper and higher. I hope you will join me.