We began our Lenten journey last week at the tomb of Jesus, where he had just risen from the dead. Why begin Lent with an Easter story? Because Easter is not a one-day-a-year thing, it is the every-day-of-the-year reality of who we are as Christians. We are a resurrection people, formed at a fundamental level by the reality that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. We looked at a few of the specific things we will find when we look at the place where Jesus lay: specifically that Jesus is alive, that God has done it all, and that the possibility of connection with God is now a reality.
Today and in the weeks to come, we will look at what it means for us as the Church to live as a resurrection people in a world where we are losing influence, a world in which we could be said to be in exile in much the same way that the Israelites were in exile in Babylon.
This week I will come back to a point I touched on in the Advent series and one which seems especially relevant in an election year: As Christians we are to be apolitical and non-ideological. We are called to seek the welfare of the city where we have been placed, and part of that means recognizing that we will probably not get a say in the city’s political and cultural arrangements.
Does this mean we are not to have political opinions? Absolutely not. We live in a country where, for the time being at least, we have the freedom to vote on who our leaders will be. As a result, we have the freedom to hold opinions on who people should vote for.
What it means is that we are to place our faith ahead of our politics. Not by placing the Bible ahead of our politics–it is possible to find something in the Bible which supports or appears to support any political position. Nor by placing Jesus ahead of our politics–it is possible to find something in the sayings and/or actions of Jesus which supports or appears to support any political position. No, the way we do this is by placing people ahead of politics. Jesus was always about what was best for people, and that is what we should be about as well. It is possible to debate what is best for people, but it is not possible to argue with the idea that what is best for people is what we should be about as Christians.
God is eminently concerned with how you treat other people. So much so, that He has staked His honor on it. God is honored when people are well-treated; the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46) is ample evidence of this, as is the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) in which the rich man’s eternal destiny is tied up in how he treated a beggar who was sitting outside his gates. So if you love God, then show it by how you treat other people.
Recognize that everyone’s political opinions make perfect sense to him/her, even if they make no sense to you. Political opinions are not formed in a vacuum, but are the end result of a long story of experience with the world which causes people to see certain things in certain ways. People who hold political opinions which make no sense to you, have knowledge and experience you don’t have, which causes those opinions to make perfect sense to them when they make no sense to you.
By all means have political opinions and convictions, but hold those convictions loosely and with an open hand. Recognize that ideologies are incomplete truths, useful up to a point yet always claiming to be more than they really are and promising more than they can deliver. Recognize that the political controversies of today will in all likelihood be long forgotten by the time the next election cycle rolls around.
Do not say or do anything that would forfeit influence in the lives of people around you. The Church has already lost lots of influence in the world at large by attempting to speak to the political controversies of the day, staking its credibility and influence on things where the world has now long since moved on. Do not stake whatever influence you may have in the lives of people around you on issues that are likely to be non-issues in a couple of years.
Our call as Christians, as a resurrection people who serve a resurrected Savior, is to show the world that there is another way to live. One which is not tied down to any political ideology or tied up in the political controversies of the day, but which points to a God who sacrificed Himself for us rather than demanding that we sacrifice for Him.