As a fellow American citizen observer, I've noticed enough things to know that the picture on this blog may elicit 2 different reactions depending on who is the observer. One observer may find it wonderful to see these two young children being raised to understand that all people, no matter their skin color, are important. Another observer may find it disturbing that these two young children are being taught some debatable things having to do with racism, associating the last word on their sign with the political agenda the "Black Lives Matter" movement is pushing.
I hope no matter what observer you identify with most, you will take the time to read this blog in its entirety, without jumping to conclusions about what I am trying to say here today.
The last elections in this country have brought up a lot of frustration and led to a lot of division and hostility on both sides. If we could learn something from them, would we want to be a part of the solution, even if it meant taking the road less traveled? I propose Christians embrace not identifying with either side, and instead identify as Christ followers, proclaiming and living according to the truth revealed in God's Word, and never defending wrong-doing and error.
During these last election years, it was rare to hear voices that were not attacking their opponents in hopes of persuading people to vote for their favorite candidate. A calm and balanced commentary was out of style, and instead people made emotionally charged claims. It seemed to me that people tried not to point out the flaws of their preferred candidate to justify why they would vote for that candidate.
When we decide to pick a side and fight against the opponent, or perhaps a more fitting word these years would be an "enemy", we put ourselves in a situation where we place politics above following Jesus. We worry about the future and fail to love our enemies, verses seeing God as being in control and casting our anxiety to Him, praying for His help, as we love our enemies along the way. We may also fail to speak about things that are important to God and in His word because we have political commitments that come first, whether you are a liberal, a conservative, or whatever you identify as politically.
It seems that racism is at the center of election year conversations. It's upsetting to witness the world fighting so hard to bring an end to something that is clearly taught against in the Bible. The sin of racism has always been fought against by people that have chosen to follow Jesus, by laying down their own views, and accepting God's Word as truth to be lived out in life. Unfortunately, the political world seems to be dominating the conversation concerning racism and because of the political debates surrounding it, some Christians are withdrawing from the topic and wrongly associating even the word "racism" as nothing more than a word tactically used by a political party to win elections. On the other end, some people too easily label their political opponents as racists, because it seems they are not on the side fighting against racism. Whether both of these claims can be true is not the point of this blog, but rather that the issue of racism is not being handled with the care it deserves on both sides.
It's not uncommon these days to hear people claim that the vast majority of white evangelicals are racist. Books have been written and studies have been conducted spreading these beliefs. Since listening to charitable and thought-provoking conversations or debates don't seem to be the norm any longer, it can seem like the only option left is to simply pick a side and join their attacks through rhetoric and hostile actions. However, dare I say, there can be a middle ground, even when our leaders don't exemplify in word and deed this idea.
I'm concerned that we as Christians may be failing to teach the world what God says about the equality of mankind, because we are too busy trying to win elections. I am concerned the Church is concealing the sins of supposed Christians that have in the past and are in the present failing to show the love of God to our neighbors. And I am concerned that we as followers of Christ are afraid of being shamed by those same supposed Christians, or those Christians more concerned about political matters than representing the love of Christ for all mankind. The Bible teaches us in 1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". Why do we think we don't have to offer the same kindness when we give the reasons for why we hold to our political views?
Where are the Christians that know where their politics must bow the knee to the Word of God? Speaking of bowing the knee, are we more concerned about the way people protest their political views that we fail to even acknowledge that we agree racism is not something Christianity must be silent about? This is not to say we can't disagree respectfully about our political views. Where are the Christians that show sensitivity, and compassion for people they disagree with? Might it be time for those Christians to come out of the shadows and set the example for Christians lacking this civility? To be clear, following Jesus doesn't mean we abandon our carefully though out political views for the sake of fighting against racism. Rather, following Jesus means our life reflects that we obey Jesus' command to love one another, and we are vocal as we pursue truth even within the political arena. Racism is a conversation absolutely relevant within Christianity that must never be abandoned as a result of politics. Our Christian worldview allows us to lead the conversation against racism, but in a Biblical manner, following God's greater agenda for the Church which impacts the world.
It seems this world, more than ever, needs the Church to remind everyone that the basis for the equality of all mankind is that our Creator made us in His image: "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27). Christians over time and still today have misrepresented the love of God for all people. Crimes have been committed misusing the Bible to justify their diabolically inspired actions, and we as Christians must be vocal about how sinful those actions were and still are happening. We as the Church must learn from their terrible choices and instead be that light the world can turn to as they seek that love and equality message for people of all ethnicities that they are looking for. People shouldn't have to turn to a political party to find grounding and a supportive community, when the Bible has offered it from the beginning. This is not to say this is the only reason people will join a political party, but rather that the world should know that the Church teaches about the love and equality for people of all ethnicities.
Breaking from what's common today will require being misrepresented as a "woke" person at times and perhaps having your reputation dragged through the mud by some, but following Jesus is worth it. We need to join the conversation of racism, speaking about the truth that is taught in Scripture about all fellow image-bearers when we are presented the opportunity so that the world can turn to Him as the solution to the problem of racism. However, if we are too busy rather being politically faithful, we may instead come across to the world as cold, uncaring, insensitive, rude and racist people. In short, speak about the image our Creator says is upon our neighbors, and know when your politics are getting in the way of doing this. Follow Jesus first, and evangelize to the lost, never failing to make it clear that racism is something God is most concerned about. I believe it's possible to fight against racism alongside of people that we disagree with politically, but doing it God's way. We don't need to agree politically or be hostile toward our political opponents when we are following Jesus and proclaiming to the world about our worth in God's eyes.