Our Social Commentary vs. the Gospel | Sojourners

Our Social Commentary vs. the Gospel

Rethinking How We Engage the Culture Wars

Like many things — theological beliefs, worships styles, forms of baptism, and preferred interpretations of the Bible — Christians are divided when it comes to which social justice issues, culture wars, and current events are worth supporting and condemning or even talking about.

Followers of Christ can be against gay marriage or for it, Democrat or Republican, a pacifist or a soldier, a vegan or a meat-eater, an animal rights advocate or a hunter — Christians constantly contradict one another, and that’s OK.

Christianity encompasses countless cultures, ethnicities, experiences, traditions, and practices, and it’s only natural that a richly complex population consisting of hundreds of millions of people located throughout the world would have a diverse array of opinions regarding cultural ethics and morality.

As Christians, we care about what’s happening around us, but as consumers we compartmentalize these social issues and personally rate them according to assumed spiritual significance. And while we believe some things merit more worth than others, we must realize that pursuing all justice — no matter how trivial, publicized, personally relevant, or culturally valued — is essential to doing God’s will.

In reality, every social issue is interconnected and intimately related through a Divine God who passionately pursues redemption, grace, forgiveness, empowerment, and the complete restoration of a broken world. God loves all of humanity.

Some Christians are passionate about an issue like abortion but could care less about immigration, while others spew rhetoric about homosexuality but disregard world poverty and hunger. Some frenetically fight for the right to bear arms while ignoring issues of violence, war, and genocide.

Some will dedicate their lives to ridding the world of sex-trafficking, but not care about the environment, and some will fight political corruption while others will strive to provide employment opportunities for the homeless.

The causes are endless, and we all promote them in the name of everything that is good, righteous, and true — claiming to do so for the glory of God.

But too often, Christians politicize their passions, idolize their platforms, and use a particular hot-button issue to promote their own agendas instead of simply doing it for the good of the ostracized, downtrodden, poor, persecuted, victimized, and forgotten.

Any cause — no matter how good it may appear to be — can be weaponized to gain power, fame, fortune, or to oppress, hurt, and destroy.

You cannot claim to uphold Christian values while simultaneously communicating hate, bigotry, exclusivism, judgment, pride, shame, and self-righteousness. Ultimately, the best form of social commentary will always be the gospel message of Jesus.

So in the midst of the vitriolic commentary that’s spewed all over social media, and within the self-righteous rage that sometimes overtakes our Christian — and mainstream — culture, let’s take a deep breath and show each other some grace.

Jesus didn’t put qualifiers on loving others. He didn’t restrict serving — or befriending — only those who only fit certain cultural, socioeconomic, political, and religious qualifications.

Yes, there were times when Jesus got mad and upset, but not once did Jesus condone rage-filled behavior from his followers, and when the disciples showed even the slightest condescension towards others they were harshly rebuked. Going one step further, he commanded his followers never to judge others — which was a responsibility reserved for God alone.

So as Christians, let’s count to 10, pray, meditate on the gospel, and try to respect and love one another — even our enemies. Let’s do our best to imitate Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that Christians are obligated to avoid conflict — or even confrontation — but we are required to honor God through our communication. Therefore, our interactions and relationships with others should exude the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, and self-control.

Christians shouldn’t view social commentary — along with action and advocacy — as a bad thing, because our faith in Jesus is timelessly relevant to the world around us. Now more than ever, the message of Jesus is vitally important and more applicable than ever.

And just because Christians disagree about various issues doesn’t mean our faith has resigned to moral relativism or we’ve abandoned the notion of truth. The problem is that it’s easier to use hyperbole and judge others without humbly, thoughtfully, intellectually, and critically working through every perspective.

Contrary to being a religion of thoughtless propaganda and mindless garbage, Christianity requires intense thought, dialogue, cultural awareness, knowledge, information, and tact. It’s not for the faint of heart or mind.

Following Jesus requires believers to grapple with philosophy, ethics, morality, and history while also applying and interpreting an extremely nuanced faith within an ever-changing society. It’s a faith that requires a lifelong dedication to learning, listening, dialoguing, and sacrificial serving.

The best way to achieve any type of social or moral change is to dedicate our lives to following the example of Jesus, loving everyone around us to the best of our ability. God help us.

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