in the wake of our election season, american christianity is being revealed for what it is, for better or worse.
i am finding in myself, and in our faith communities, two tendencies that are overly represented and NEITHER of which i feel are true representations of our hope for how we ought to live in God according to the full counsel of scripture (as opposed to picking and choosing what we like). this goes beyond the labels of conservative/liberal and republican/democrat.
church family, please hear me out. i’m not saying i have all the answers. i do know that i am troubled by our division (and even the attitudes and anger rising up in me) – how we’re treating one another, let alone people outside the church – and i don’t think i’m alone in this. we do ourselves, our witness, and ultimately the desire of Jesus no good by being so entrenched in our divisions. Jesus knows, some hills are worth dying on…and some are not. let us make every effort at peace. i want to start by addressing our two root tendencies or the opposing sides that we often find ourselves in. then i would like to propose a way forward that overlaps the strengths of both sides. let’s not be so quick to point out the speck in our siblings eye and miss the log that may be in ours. let us be the first to admit where we fall short before we insist on change from the other.
1) on one hand i see the tendency of gospel escapism (in me and the church in general).
what i mean by gospel escapism is…
a faith that focuses on loving God at the expense of loving our neighbors where they’re at (not expecting them to have it together before we love them). a belief in the good news of God that neglects the engagement of this world, where this good news of God unfolds (the gospel is not just that he forgiveness us but that he unites himself with us to walk in this world). a theology that accepts salvation now but waits for the kingdom of God later and somewhere else (causing us to fall prey to the lawlessness that we can go on sinning so that grace abounds all the more. we need to remember Jesus tells us to daily pray for His kingdom to come HERE on earth). a Jesus without justice (a pursuit of a Jesus that is sterilized from his cries for justice).
2) on the other hand i see the tendency of humanistic justice (in me and the church in general)
what i mean by humanistic justice is…
a faith that focuses on loving our neighbors at the expense of loving God directly (the one who is our daily source of life). a belief in humanity that neglects the engagement of the God of humanity on His terms (His word does have authority and He does have standards that we must not compromise to the world and will make us quite unpopular). a theology that accepts the kingdom of God as expanding now but waits to work out salvation later (not only does this lead to burnout but puts us in danger of being legalists of a different kind). a justice without Jesus – a pursuit of justice that is fine to use Jesus as a rallying point but that asks him step aside when it’s time to do the work (yes, Jesus is for the marginalized but it is not at the expense of his reign nor his spiritual power).
church family, my dear brothers and sisters whom Jesus has died for, i long to see a third way of Gospel Justice.
what i mean by gospel justice is…
a gospel that has it’s face turned to God but feet planted on the ground. a gospel that doesn’t forget Jesus’ inaugural address was good news for the poor, prisoner, blind, and oppressed.
a faith that is informed by the epistles AND the gospels. Truth AND Grace. conviction AND compassion. a Jesus that will call out sin but sups with sinners. orthodoxy AND orthopraxy. conversion AND discipleship. justification AND sanctification (Romans 1-5 AND Romans 6-16). loving God AND loving our neighbor. that we are not saved BY good works but rather we are saved TO DO good works (Ephesians 2:8-9 AND 10).
let us not be gospel escapists who throw in the towel, disengaging from spheres outside of our own and policy that affects our most vulnerable neighbors from the womb to the tomb. let us not be humanistic justice seekers who put our ultimate faith in human systems of governance, as if there is no God sovereign over all and whose kingdom is the only one that will stand.
will you join me in seeking His Kingdom and His Righteousness to break through here on this earth, not our kingdoms and our righteousness?