I follow politics, but I don't go crazy. I'm not the kind of person who wears buttons, puts bumper stickers on their cars, and signs on their home lawns. I confess I have one Ronnie Reagan shirt I picked up awhile ago from a second-hand store. So, while I watched the elections with great interest and cried like a baby, it was hard to empathize with those who were celebrating wildly in the streets in Seattle and also those who were visibly upset about the doom-and-gloom news of impending socialism and Obamunism.
It's not just because I'm an "independent" voter but also because I feel like my voice in the city, church, and culture is to be a "reconciler" or "peacemaker" that I've been feeling torn over the growing division in the country between RED and BLUE. When you see leaders tear each other apart, how can anything be done to remedy some of the national and global crises?
Even more painful has been the division in the church. Dobson's hypothetical 2012 letter didn't help matters recently. For many years, the Religious Right has dominated the voice of evangelical Christians. And now that Obama has become president, you wonder if the evangelical Left or the "enlightened evangelicals" will handle their increased visibility with more grace. It's too bad that painful comments like the one below are said to one another so flippantly or with so much condemnation in the church:
"What! How can a Christian vote for [insert party, candidate, policy]?"
Neither party has a monopoly on morality and certainly, not on Jesus. Jesus has you.
In recent weeks, I've had random church folks, blog stalkers, and readers criticize my relationship with Sojourners. I guess it didn't help that I'm on their recent magazine cover. Geez, it's not like it was Playgirl. Some didn't like the quote in the Seattle Post Intelligencer about my lack of support for Sarah Palin and the GOP since all good Christians vote Republican. And then of course there were those who were annoyed at my post expressing likeness for Sarah Palin since all intelligent, thinking Christians vote Democrat. You can't win.
Last Sunday, I preached on the topic of faith and politics. I shared what many in Sojourners subscribe to: Christians should not be in bed with either party. We should be driven by a kingdom/shalom agenda and ultimately, our allegiance is to the ONE that is the king of kings and Lord of lords. I also shared about some of the issues that are important, including the one that is very clear in the scriptures: God has a special heart for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. God's call for mercy, justice, and compassion is not only revealed to the church but are examples of God's universal morality. To be honest, the sermon was tame and so it was discouraging to receive several e-mails this week:
- What is wrong with you? Why can't you just support Obama?
- How could you support a Republican candidate?
- I feel like you attacked me and my views and that I don't fit in this church.
- I can't believe that as a Christian pastor, you have those views on abortion.
In fact, several people alluded that they'll likely leave the church and that last Sunday may have been their last. I understand that politics and worldview are important stuff, but is it possible that we can still be in fellowship and relationship even if we don't see eye to eye on everything? Can people state their convictions, be respectful and respected, and still be united in Christ?
Listen, folks. I pastor the whole church and not the left or the right. We worship Jesus and not politicians. Jesus is the center of our lives. While politicians and their views will impact policies, and thus we acknowledge their importance, we also need to work at working together. Don't back down from your convictions but be respectful and gracious - whether or not your candidate was elected. And if you don't get what you wanted, be mature and remain engaged.
More than anything else: Be peacemakers. Never relinquish the task and call of reconciliation. I want to believe; I need to believe that in Christ, there can be unity in diversity.
In the context of this week and numerous intense e-mails and conversations, it was good to receive this e-mail about 52 to 48 With Love. I liked it because rather than rubbing it in, people are reaching out with grace as a gesture of reconciliation. What is it?