Do I Have to Be “This” or “That”?
First, a confession…
My family roots go back to the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky and a sharecropper’s farm in Athens, Kentucky. That’s Athens with a long “A”, and it happens to be the place where Daniel Boone moved his family when he parted ways with Boonesboro. The road my grandparents lived on is called the “Athens-Boonesboro Road.”
I was never a coal miner or a sharecropper, but I carry much of the culture associated with these livelihoods inside me. I was taught to work hard every day, save everything possible and watch out for the “Fat Cats” who were looking for ways to take away what little you had. My family members went on to hold some of the highest offices in the state (including Governor, State Treasurer, U.S. Representative and Mayor, Sheriff and County Clerk of Lexington). My summers were spent attending local political rallies, shaking hands with candidates and helping a few of them hammer their signs on the courthouse lawn.
When I became an adult I developed my own political views. As major political parties re-crafted their platforms (though their fundamental differences remained the same), it became harder for me to associate my identity with a single political perspective. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love politics! I also understand people who labor for a cause within a particular party have to be somewhat “sold out” to certain ideals.
What does all of this have to do with the point I wish to make?
It’s just background information to hopefully help you understand where I am coming from. As a preacher I am careful not to bring my personal political views into the “pulpit” because I don’t want people thinking they must have an allegiance to a political party to go to heaven (I have talked with those who think this is the case and I don’t buy it). Yet, I am not one to dismiss politics and disengage from social rhetoric. God needs us to dialogue with others on important topics affecting our culture. If we don’t, we are guilty of marginalizing the wisdom we find in His Word.
What bothers me most is that we seem to be increasingly unable to talk about our personal perspectives and observations free of labels. The thinking goes like this: “If you believe that, then you must also believe this.” Such is the stuff of stereotypes that often mischaracterize others.
Perhaps it is only human that we attempt to systematize people’s ideas. This is how we come to believe most rich people are greedy, most poor people are incapable, most religious people are intolerant and most irreligious people are un-spiritual. I have found all of these labels to be false.
Maybe you have already plotted me somewhere on a chart.
“Oh, he’s one of those…”
In truth, most social movements, whatever their nature, are really alliances. People are willing to align themselves with others with whom they sometimes disagree, as long as there is agreement on the big things.
So is there anywhere we can align ourselves with others who sometimes see things differently for the purpose of accomplishing something that has the potential of transforming our world?
Let me introduce you to the church. Or rather allow me to share the Apostle Paul’s introduction: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Does being one in Christ mean we will one day come to agreement on every issue in our culture?
I don’t think so.
Actually, I would hope not since that would mean our brains had died.
This also doesn’t mean political and social views don’t matter since they often shape policies that touch on important biblical principles. But it does allow me to be in favor of something like women’s rights (Because we are one in Christ) and still speak against abortion (Because it is a sin to take the life of an unborn child).
“Wait a minute!!! You said you don’t get political! Besides, you can’t believe this if you don’t believe that!”
Yes I can, because I am free in Christ. I am not bound by a party.
I am bound by the blood of Jesus that poured out on a cross.
Jesus is my “this” and “that.”
More accurately, He is my “all” (Colossians 3:11).