Sometimes, I'm afraid. I know everyone is, sometimes. I'm not really afraid as in I think something is out to get me. It's not that kind of fear. It's more of a lurking fear that many well-meaning Christians have been sadly misled. It is Easter Sunday, 2020. A marvelously glorious day for Christ-followers. No virus, no shutdowns, no worries, no uncertainties, absolutely nothing can change the fact that the Easter story lays the very foundation of our faith.
That's not what I fear because that can't be shaken. My fear lies in the fact that, somewhere along the timeline of history, Christians began to politicize God and their faith. Somehow, they bought into the idea that if we can get the laws on our side...what? If all the laws are on our side, we will become the loving individuals God calls us to be? If all the laws are on our side, all the people will be, too? What do we think will happen if we have political victory? Do we honestly believe people will seek God because of politics? It's not uncommon for me to see a friend's social media proclaim that Jesus is Lord in the morning, and follow it with a hate-filled diatribe later in the day railing against people who line up with the other political party.
Somehow, it's okay to hate a person whose faith is in Jesus, but whose political party is the opposite of the one we believe in. We call each other names. We spend the precious few moments we have to bear witness to our faith, and to spread love and hope, trying to persuade the "other guys" that their politics are wrong and that, somehow, if we just have the person we choose as our leader, all problems will be solved. We can't even have a pandemic without it turning political and Christians following along like good little sheep, cursing those who disagree, and allowing ourselves to become more divided.
But, what about in Matthew 22:21 when Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's"? I feel somewhat lost these days because I don't fit comfortably anywhere. I love my liberal friends. I love my conservative friends. I don't think either group is right about everything. And I strongly believe when Jesus gave that admonition, He wanted us to keep faith and politics separate. I think we believe life would be so much simpler if we were able to just legislate everyone into believing the way we believe.
The problem with that is, it's not Biblical. The early Church didn't grow because they enacted laws that forced people to bend to their will. The early Church was known for love. They were known for caring for others in ways nobody had seen before, but everyone craved. People desperately want to feel like they are worthy of someone's love, someone's caring, someone's compassion. I've met so many people who tell me their personal stories of pain and hardship - and they so often start by apologizing to me for sharing the ugliness of their lives. It makes me feel sad that people are fully expecting me to condemn them - let's face it, we usually know when we are doing wrong things in our lives - and they are often surprised when I mostly want to pray with them and do my best to assure them that nobody is beyond the love of the God I know.
In the deepest parts of my heart, I long for Christ-followers to step away from the politics that divide us, and begin to come together around the one thing that unites us - God's love for us and others. The greatest commandment tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I think, if we honestly embrace that very, very difficult commandment, we can become known for our love. And if we are known for our love, our family will grow. And grow. And the rest will follow, regardless of who gets elected.
Matthew 22:36-39: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’