Friday, May 11, 2012

Either Or

You cannot be compassionate without accepting.
You cannot serve without enabling.
You cannot forgive without being tolerant.
You cannot challenge without judging.
You cannot preach the Gospel without condemning.
You cannot promote something without opposing something else.
Religion divides, politics unites under causes.
Politics divides, religion unites under causes.
You cannot follow Jesus without voting _________

Do any of these seem unreasonable to you? They all sound perfectly logical and have just enough truth to believe. But they are all lies that Satan has used to have us argue that either politics and religion are one in the same or that one cannot have anything to do with the other. And we buy into the lies and divide our churches and our society along lines drawn by politics.

I was browsing through a couple of websites last night, from each side of the political aisle, both claiming to be Christian. I could not believe the hate and divisiveness that permeated every topic, every discussion. Each side assumes that you cannot be for a Social Justice gospel without voting a certain way, nor can you be against immorality in our culture without voting a certain way. Is it possible to  be compassionate yet still hold a high standard of morality?

One side argues that Jesus hung out with sinners, never preached about politics, and had in his small group of apostles an insurrectionist and a swindler. Oh and of course, his first miracle involved alcohol.

The other side argues that Jesus preached morality and religious purity and called his followers to repentance.

Why can't both be true? So long as politics gives us a choice of either/or between two candidates, we assume the same applies to our religion. Jesus didn't preach about politics even though he lived under an empire that promoted infanticide and embraced homosexuality because he cared more about how we live than how we vote. Any one of the Gospel writers could have added commentary to fit their political views but they didn't. God gave his Law to the Israelites not to make them morally superior, but to separate them from the world around them. So following Christ is about how we live, separate from the world's values; not about how we vote or what social cause we embrace.

But this does not mean to throw away your politics, rather it is a call to not put your faith in it. Instead put your politics into action:
  • Are you pro-life? Then love the unwed mother, accept her when her family rejects her.
  • Are you for the sanctity of marriage? Then remember the commands to keep the marriage bed pure, the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, that marriage is as much about love as it is respect and that divorce is as much, if not more, a threat to the traditional family as gay marriage.
  • Do you preach against the immorality in our culture? Then preach against every sin, from gossip to gluttony, with the same amount of bile and venom you spew against the gay community.
  • Do you embrace and accept homosexuals? Then remember that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery he commanded her to leave her life of sin.
  • Are you compassionate towards the downtrodden, doing what you can to heal? Recall Jesus' words to the man healed by the pool to stop sinning or something worse may happen.
  • Do you believe that our nation is a Christian nation? Then remember that you are citizens of Christ's Kingdom first and that the first command of the Kingdom of God that Jesus ushered in was to repent.
  • Remember that someone's station in life may have come about because of sin, yet it is an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed.
  • And before you judge the speck in another's eye, remember the plank in your own.
Unlike politics, following Jesus is not an either/or proposition; it is all or nothing.

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