Kevin’s Conversations: Outside the Box
Sometimes I feel called to try to help people to think more broadly and deeply. I try to challenge them to think outside of their traditional box. Not that their traditional box is necessarily inherently bad or defective, but sometimes truths and/or appreciation of others and their viewpoints can be gained that previously had been missing from their box. After all, we are all fallen creatures, and no matter how intelligent or spiritual any last one of is, we still don’t have it all figured out and we all have our blind spots. I certainly know there are areas in my mind and heart and life that I am weak at and need challenging. If never challenged, there will never be any betterment in those areas. And if never bettered, we are at greater risk of unrighteous behavior and we stunt the desires that God would have for us.
Over the past several years, and most especially the last couple, one big area where I have tried to get people to think is in the ways they conduct themselves in the political sphere. I have done it here from time to time, although my writings have become much more infrequent this past year. But I have continued to do it on Facebook with some regularity and do so even at times in real life conversation, although I usually stick more to writing as I frequently express my thoughts and ideas more effectively through written word.
Far and away, the largest demographic that I live within and the largest demographic of my Facebook friends and I would even venture to guess the largest demographic that makes up the readership here is one that is made up of Christians who are (or at least lean) conservative in both their theological and political beliefs and/or would consider themselves to be evangelical. Living in this world, one of the biggest things that has disturbed me is the way I witness people conduct themselves in the discussion and handling of political subjects and happenings. Surely, our whole culture is in a downward spiral right now as to how we manage our political differences, and all kinds of different factions and segments of people are contributing to this demise. But since my “family” is made up more of conservative Christians and/or evangelicals than anybody else, more times than not that is who I address and challenge when I choose to speak out.
I am far from the arbiter of all truth and knowledge, but I do try to take what I best believe to be truths from God and challenge people to think about how it applies to whatever may be the political topic at hand. I often do not seek to debate the political subject, but rather I want people to think about how God would want us to apply our Christian faith in dealing with and discussing said topic. However, my speaking out often doesn’t go so well, at least with some. They seemingly often only see a political battle to be had and that is where their focus stays. They must protect their political candidate/position/ideology and combat the one who is seemingly criticizing their favored candidate/position/ideology. There is little consideration beyond this.
Sadly, this is the state that the church in our culture is being entrapped within more and more. Assuredly, not nearly all are guilty, but as our culture has swooned down this detrimental spiral, it would seem that many in the church are following suit. That is where my biggest concern lies. For those of us who are Christians, we do not have to agree on all political points and subjects, nor do we have to accept political positions or arguments that we believe to be immoral. But we ought to be able to have our priorities straight and to know how to conduct ourselves respectfully and responsibly. By that we realize that our identity as children of God in His Kingdom comes well before any earthly identity and that we should strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects such and honors Him.
When it comes to politics we should be placing our identity and loyalty to Christ well before identity and loyalty to any particular political party or position or politician. Our judgment of political issues and circumstances should first go through a filter of seeking what is right and just and true before any consideration of how it may impact our political goals or desires or making it fit within our traditional box of thinking. We may not even always agree on what is right and just and true and that will happen as we are all flawed beings. Sometimes it may even be that our “righteous” filter is flawed. And while we realize that the government and the church are not the same and we do not expect them to function the same and serve the same purposes, if we are unable to attempt to first put these governmental and political issues through the righteous filter, then we are going to fail all the more in finding and advocating for what God would have us to do.
Regularly ignoring or minimizing or staying silent on the wrongs done by “your side” while regularly attacking the wrongs done by the “other side” is not right or just or true. Justifying or condoning or even cheering on the wrongs committed by your favored party or politician is not right or just or true. Demonizing or misrepresenting those with whom we have political disagreement is not right or just or true. Changing one’s story to make it conform to one’s desires to gain political advantage is not right or just or true. These things happen all the more when we decide to stay within and protect our traditional box of thinking and decide that everything and everyone else outside our box must be wrong. And these things are happening more and more in our culture and more and more with those who comprise the church.
I may not always be right about everything on which I speak and I may not always effectively or lovingly communicate. But I believe God has prompted it on my heart to speak out and try to help people see the bigger and sometimes more righteous picture on things, most especially when it comes to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Some may not take to it so kindly, but maybe there are others who are quietly reading or listening and it makes some kind of positive impact. Therefore, despite the negative feedback I sometimes receive, I choose to keep proceeding. Sometimes I can even learn from that negative feedback by considering things outside my box.
May we rely on God and not ourselves to lead and guide our thinking and actions. May we strive for what is right, and not what is politically expedient.