When I was younger I thought my Dad was too wishy-washy when it came to political allegiances. He was always fiercely independent, never declaring a political party or a particular platform. His two favorite presidents of all-time were Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, two men that could not be more different and opposite. Now that I have a few years under my belt (not to mention a few pounds) I am beginning to see the approach and wisdom of my late Dad. Dad was no stranger to politics and dealing with people. He served for many years on the local school board and presided as its president through some mucky issues of the school system. Through it all he was able to maintain his convictions without estranging others.
Within my local congregation there may be very little ethnic and racial diversity, but it is more than made up for in political diversity. Right-wing conservatives and left-leaning liberals populate the church, with everything in-between. Within my sphere of social media friends the differences and diversity is even more pronounced. Just a quick glance at Facebook, I would never know that it is the holiday season where we celebrate peace and goodwill toward our fellow humanity. Heated polemics and sarcastic rhetoric seem to be everywhere. It is one thing for the world to act in such a way, it is quite another for people who profess the name of Jesus Christ to act with hate-filled speech. When unthinking Christians splash their spiritual immaturity in public for all to see, it is time for us to take the high road to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe my Dad was onto something after all – remaining calm and carefully engaging in political talk in ways that are helpful, not hurtful.
It was our Lord Jesus Christ who clearly taught us that it is the peacemakers who are blessed and are called children of God (Matthew 5:9). Jesus had some strong words for those who would stoop to name-calling (Matthew 5:22). What is more, Christ our teacher clearly instructed us his followers to love and pray for our enemies, to forgive those who have wronged us, and not to judge them (Matthew 5:43-48; 6:14-15; 7:1-5). The gospel that Jesus and Paul proclaimed was one of peace, not wrath. Our Lord did not go to the cross in order to give us ammunition to blast others who disagree with us; Jesus died to bring peace and to completely eradicate any us-versus-them mentalities. The warped compulsion we have to divide the entire human population into good and bad misses the mid-point of history where Jesus stands to bring peace, having abolished our predilections for separating others (Ephesians 2:11-18).
It is time to take the high road. It is not wishy-washy to pray and work toward peace. I have come to see that my Dad showed more courage in not taking sides than aligning himself with a certain group of people. Our focus is more out-of-whack than we probably know. It is high time we get our heads and our hearts back on the One who will ultimately come and consummate God’s benevolent and peaceful reign upon all creation. By adopting Christ’s kingdom values we are being faithful subjects in a rule that is meant to transform the world, not through fear and hostility, but by the grace of King Jesus.