The irony of this post is that the following words could just as easily been written to Conservative Evangelicals who, over the last eight years, had become wildly fearful of President Obama and his policies. For they became a people professing to follow Jesus, while becoming obsessed and entrenched with the politics of our country, abandoning the peaceful, loving, non-fearful way of Jesus.
And while this has been wildly apparent, in an ironic twist, after witnessing Conservative Evangelicals continuing to abandon the way of Jesus and live in a state of fear, many Progressive Christians have done the exact same thing. They have been consumed by a fear of President-elect Trump and have resorted to attitudes and characteristics that look nothing like the Jesus they profess to follow.
It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you are on- This country is not your hope. This political system is not your hope. This government is not your hope. This president is not your hope.
Each one of them will continue to fail you because they are comprised of broken and sinful people. And despite the political leanings of our leaders and the vision they have for this country, our country exists to increase wealth and power in the world. And the means by which our country achieves those ends at the very foundation, at the very core, can be nothing but antithetical to the way of Jesus.
This is the way it has always been and the way it will always continue to be- A country cannot follow Jesus.
This is not a lament. It is a reality. And we are wildly mistaken if we ever hold our politicians, government, and country to that standard.
Now with that being said, we can use our voices, we can cast our votes, we can try to influence it to be more equitable and just, but it will always be a monster that exists for it’s own wealth and power. It will always be a monster that exists for it’s own self-interest. And it will always be a monster that devours anyone who stands in it’s way.
That is the inherent nature of governments. That is what they have always been and that’s what they will continue to be until the very end.
Yet somehow, so many Christians still try to redeem it or have expectations that it ought to be inherently moral or just. But the truth is that, not only can a government not be redeemed, it cannot be wholly moral or just. A government may, on occasion make a moral or just decision or implement a moral or just law, but we are sadly mistaken when we believe it can be cleansed and made whole. No matter your governmental idealism, a government will always work to perpetuate it’s own wealth and power, and in the process will create victims, casualties, and collateral damage.
This is the predictably destructive path of every single man-made government in the history of mankind. Our leaders, our government, and our country are no different.
That is why Jesus did not waste time trying to reform governments, because they are interminably broken. They will always operate out of self-interest. And they will always leave a trail of devastation in their wake.
Jesus stepped outside of the fractured, divided, oppressive systems of the world and invited people into an entirely different present reality that, despite the wreckage around us, exists as a refuge to those who no longer put their hope, faith, and trust in these broken systems and to those who have been victims and casualties of the system.
The invitation is to come out of a hope, faith, and trust in broken governmental leaders and systems and into a hope, faith, and trust in Jesus and his kingdom of wholeness and healing.
The invitation is to come out of political division and animosity and into a Kingdom of diverse unity and graceful brotherhood and sisterhood.
The invitation is to come out of a life slavishly glued to politics and political news hour-by-hour and into a Kingdom of ever-present liberation and shalom.
The invitation is to come out of lives consumed by verbally demeaning and destroying people or candidates who disagree with your politics and into a Kingdom working and praying for the healing and restoration of people and the reconciliation of relationships with all people.
The invitation is to come out of hatred toward political leaders, political foes, their followers, and every group of people you are told are your enemies and into a Kingdom of self-sacrificial love for every political leader, political foe, and every single group of people you are told to hate and stand against.
The invitation is to come out of lives utterly ravaged by the fear of political leaders, their politics, and their followers and into a Kingdom that will fearlessly move forward as peace emissaries, hope ambassadors, and a light in the darkness.
For it is only light that will drive out darkness. And we can not be the darkness.
We are to be a light constantly demonstrating this radical love of God, and inviting everyone into this abundant life. That is our only hope. And that is the only hope for humanity.
But we let politics, political leaders, and governments make us angry… and fearful.
And it is an absolute understatement to say that FEAR has a massive death grip on so many Christians, regardless of political persuasion. So many Christians are more obsessed with politics and governments than embodying and extending the Kingdom of Christ.
They are afraid of instability, afraid of tyranny, afraid of “losing freedoms,” afraid of opposing ideologies, afraid of the government, afraid of presidents, afraid of “losing their rights” or “losing their civil liberties,” afraid of the government “taking their guns,” afraid of the government taking their religious liberties, afraid of their money becoming worthless, afraid of losing their jobs, afraid of “new world orders,” and afraid of Anti-Christ figures.
It’s exhausting. And it’s not who we are to be.
Don’t miss what I am saying here.
I am not saying that we ought not work peacefully, prayerfully, lovingly, and creatively to oppose those things (and people) who work against the extension of the kingdom of God in the world. We will always stand beside and work peacefully, prayerfully, lovingly, and creatively for the marginalized, the victimized, and the oppressed.
But as a people who live in the perfect love of God, we fear nothing.
And as we extend that perfect love to others, we will fear nothing.
It’s not too crazy of an idea to believe that if we aren’t living like Christ presently, when times are relatively good, then we will never live like Christ when times get really difficult in the future.
We can’t simply be a people content to only receive the love of God. We have to be people who fearlessly and sacrificially extend the love of God to everyone… even when times are difficult, even when the politics of our day are amoral and unjust, even when the world is crazy and chaotic.
That may be hard to swallow because it confronts the fear in which we have been residing and exposes how insufficient and negligent we have been at extending the love of God.
Think about it.
Do you hate the President of the United States and his policies – or – are you praying for his heart to change, for him to know the way of Jesus, and then loving him despite what actions he takes?
Do you hate the leaders whom we have been told are our enemies or whom we have been told are working against us- or- are you ignoring these voices and choosing to love our enemies the way Jesus Christ loved his enemies.
Do you find yourself getting angry with other people or people groups when you listen to right-wing or left-wing talk radio, when you watch news programs, and when you read the newspaper – or – are you tuning out and learning how to mercifully and gracefully love all people and all people groups despite their situation or circumstance?
Do your actions, when standing for a position on an issue, make you hurt, minimize, and wound individuals and people groups – or – do they heal, lift up, mend, and restore individuals and people groups in the loving, graceful, and merciful love of Christ?
Are your words and attitude toward others divisive, angry, hostile, demeaning, and devaluing when you disagree with their position or the way in which they live their lives – or – are your words and attitude always full of life, love, kindness, encouragement, and the building up of others?
We are just scratching the surface with these questions.
Let the world only know us for our all-consuming, enveloping, and overwhelming love.
Jesus is calling us out of the divisive, political spectator crowd and along the narrow pathway with him.
To surrender every ounce of our lives to follow him and his way.
To walk away from a life that is easy.
To walk away from a life that is predictable.
To walk away from a life that is comfortable.
To enter into a life of risk.
To be willing to suffer pain and alienation.
To be willing to die.
All for love.
And he is asking us to not just receive God’s love, but to also be willing to surrender our lives in order to fearlessly give it away.
Let us be a people who are not stressed, anxious, or worried in our present lives or at the first sign of turmoil, but rather let us be a people who put our entire hope, faith, and trust in God.
Let us be a people who do not let the light of righteousness burn out in our present lives or as the world continues to grow darker around us, but rather let us be a people with a renewed sense that we are to have a unified purpose together extending the righteousness of God in the present, even as things become increasingly complex and chaotic.
Let us be a people who are not just announcing a watered-down Good News message with our lips presently or becoming even more silent in the face of opposition, but rather let us be a people who understand fully and unequivocally the life-changing, world-altering reality of the Good News of the kingdom and let us be a people who invite everyone in the world with our words, our lives, and our all.
Let us be a people who are not easily swayed by propaganda, talking heads, political leaders, or any other thing that could lead us astray presently or as times become increasingly uncertain, but rather let us be a people resolved to know Jesus so intimately, his kingdom so thoroughly, his voice so specifically, that we could never be misguided.
And let us be a people who are not sucked into the national news headlines, the talk-show venom, the political mudslinging, the divisive rhetoric, and the cultural instigation presently or in times when it will be easier to blame and hate others, but rather let us be a people so overwhelmed and full of the love of God that we would rather give our lives than not give that love away.
Peace and love…