I have thought many times about the question of my political priorities, particularly as I read the Gospels and the Prophets. With the horrible series of bombings in and around Paris the question seems inescapable to me. How would I know if my responses to such evil reflects the values demanded of the people of God, the Church, or if they reflect my politics or citizenship? For me, the two responses I have seen too much of bring the contrast into focus.
Response #1 Bomb ISIS: It is no great secret that with all bombing innocent civilians will die. “Civilized” countries admit this is unfortunate but it is a cost we are willing to pay. The recent bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan is a recent example. The US Christian’s cry for justice rings hollow when it includes the cry for bombing ISIS controlled cities. Jesus demands that we love our enemies and pray for them. How do we twist that into support for war? Paul reminds the Church that our fight is not against flesh and blood but every poll of Evangelicals affirms that in fact the Church does not share that view. When did the Apostles’ view that we obey God not man (the State) go by the wayside? Most scholars point to the conversion of Constantine.
Response #2 Close our borders to war refugees: It is a bitter but expected irony that the political response to both issues devalues the lives of those outside our borders with the stated purpose of protecting those inside the borders. But why should Christians be surprised? Every objection, however reasonable it sounds, is based on politics and fear, not the clear teachings of Jesus. Do I really need to cite the litany of verses in Scripture that demand love for the refugee and oppressed?
I would hope that in our American churches we are reminding those who claim to follow Jesus that with this claim comes the demands of Jesus and the teachings of his Apostles. I would hope that time is taken to lovingly chastise those who claim to follow, but their views and passions reflect more on their American citizenship and their fears than their membership in the Kingdom of God.
Followers of Jesus are not supposed to care about political borders. Within the international Body of Christ that we call the Church we are all brothers and sisters. For those who make no claim to follow Jesus, they are our neighbors, regardless of whatever political borders separate us. We recognize they exist but they do not control how we love, and love is demanded. What our politicians decide is in many ways outside our control but the Church has a Leader who demands our allegiance and he demands that we do the hard work of love because that is the path that leads to life.
Which part will the American church play in the parable of the Good Samaritan? Let the politicians play their political games but please let the Church be the Church!
4 thoughts on “Christian or Political?”
Somewhat related, which I just came across in my FB feed after reading your post – http://www.theonion.com/article/god-angrily-clarifies-dont-kill-rule-222
(That’s an Onion article written after the Sept. 11th attacks but it bears repeating, unfortunately – in light of the bombings on Paris, in light of retaliation bombings, in light of the way things just keep on going way too much of the time . . .)
Thanks Julia. Yes the Onion article is priceless. “Outsiders” have an ability to read Jesus without our filter. Have you ever read Mark Twain’s War Prayer?
I haven’t – sounds like something for my reading list! Thanks.
It is maybe a 5 minute read but annoyingly thought provoking.