...No Matter What They Tell You
I have been spending a lot of time on Twitter the past few months. One reason is my interest in politics and there is such a diversity of opinion there, that it is a time-efficient way to keep up.
I am also trying to build an audience for my writing and in doing so, have grown my follower count by following a diverse crowd of folks, some very different from me, and/or each other in their politics, their faith or lack thereof, their economic status, geographic location, pet causes, pets of all kinds, sports passions, and professions.
I try to write at the intersection of Christian belief and real world examples, and when I can tweet encouragement using a scripture passage, or insights from my growing faith, I do it.
This probably comes off as inconsistent to some people, who have read my sometimes-snarky comments, particularly about politics. How can a Christian who quotes the Bible also be sarcastic and unkind.
Answer, like everyone else, I am imperfect. I acknowledge my weakness, my failings, my inability to be consistently like Jesus, the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. I strive for it, but I don't achieve it. It's a long process.
What I support politically seems inconsistent as well. I have become more liberal about more things which has, ironically, been driven by my deeper understanding of Christianity.
This confuses some, but it is utterly consistent with Jesus' teaching. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, who walked as a human being among other human beings. He advocated love. He is love. God is love. He is God.
Jesus famously answered a Pharisee when he asked Jesus what was the greatest of the Ten Commandments. Instead of naming one of the ten, Jesus added two more. He said that we must love the Lord, our God with all of our hearts, and minds and strength. Secondly, He said we must love our neighbor as ourselves.
He didn't add a list of exceptions on the neighbor point, because there are none. He clearly intended that we love all of one another. Period.
He said by following these two, you would necessarily be following the 10, which are all touched by these two.
Given the difficult state of the world today, loving one another has become a progressive, even radical thing to do.
Advocating on behalf of the poor makes you 'liberal.' Suggesting that the government pay for programs to lift up the poor, and you are a socialist. Pushing for the basic human rights for black, immigrant and LGBTQ+ makes you a 'left-wing whacko.' Saying that our education system unfairly disadvantages people from certain places makes you all of these. And of course, suggesting that police handling of black suspects as different from the same violations by whites and now you are Antifa and a dangerous militant.
Looked at through an honestly Christian lens, none of these policies are radical.
While Jesus was not an anti-government agitator, his acceptance of and association with people on whom society looked down made those in authority uncomfortable. Tax collectors, lepers, certain foreigners, beggars, the disabled, and prostitutes were received by Jesus with love. Not of their sins, but for the love of the people, all of whom were created and loved by God. Just like all of us.
In our own time, society is more complex, with different geographic regions, cultures, religious traditions, government formats. And while there have been areas of improvement in some places, our tendency to find certain groups to denigrate has remained.
Some of these groups find safety in numbers in certain cities and countries. But in other places, it remains dangerous, even deadly, to be a member of one of these groups. Jesus, I feel certain, condones none of this.
Although many identify themselves as Christians, we are all people and so, none of us are perfect. I am not suggesting that I am a better or worse Christian than anyone else.
That said, some Christians have banded together in ways that betray a worldly pride and prejudice that is antithetical to the faith we have in Jesus Christ. Whether it is political power, or wealth, or fame, or as a guise to hide a bias or hatred, or all of these, some believers have presented themselves in decidedly un-Christian ways.
There are also those who have pandered to the sensibilities of Christians specifically to manipulate them into spending their money and votes in a particular direction. These operators cherry-pick the Bible, removing context and meaning, to support their often-evil messages. They deride good people making honest efforts if they don't believe in the causes they do.
Whether some have been misled by the clever or have cynically pursued their own interest under a cloak of so-called faith, the result is the same. The rest of the world sees these hypocrites as representative of Christianity. And the impression is not good.
Truthfully, they are representative, in that, as human beings, they are flawed and sinful. Their faith is not what it should be - we are all trying to grow in faith. Their actions, whether they see it or not, are not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But what others misjudge is that while these are imperfect people, they serve a perfect God. A God who is love. A God of compassion and mercy and love. A God who delights when we use our gifts - whatever they are - to serve others.
So to those who are confused by my devout belief in Jesus Christ, and my advocacy of ideas the world calls progressive or liberal, realize, I see no inconsistency at all. And I am proud, to the extent I am able, to reach all kinds of people with all sorts of priorities and agendas, and strive to be a positive, realistic, example of a Christian believer.
Thank you for reading. God bless you.
Jim Donaher is a writer, blogger, and author of the soon to be published, "Call Him, He's Home: Learning Prayer to Start and Grow Your Relationship with God" Click the title to read an excerpt.
For more writing on topics like this, I strongly recommend the work of John Pavlovitz, whose blog and books can be found here. He is exceptionally talented and says many of the things I am thinking before I think them! Let me know what you think
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