Saturday, October 13, 2012

Right or left? How would Jesus vote?

With the election upon us, it seems like everyone has an opinion.  There is a lot of mudslinging between the right and the left political wings with very little hope of them coming together in the middle for the common good.  It seems like all parties and candidates really need to let people know where they are different rather than what they have in common.  I know that we need to know the different stances so that we can make an educated decision as to who we should vote for, but the country might be paying a great price for this type of polarization.

I see the same thing happening in the church.  It seems like the conservative and liberal ends of the Christian spectrum seems to be running farther and farther away from the middle and taking very strong, dogmatic stances on most issues and pointing fingers at "the other side" and labeling them as "heretic" or "Pharisee" depending on which side you are on.  Are we shooting ourselves in the foot and hindering the move of Christ around the world by using the same style of politics and arguments that play themselves out in the media and bringing those inside the church and putting Christian labels on them?  Why do the walls of my Christian friends look like a religious version of Fox News vs CNN?

The same thing plays out on the mission field as well.  Some are obsessed with making sure that we don't water down the gospel while others are trying to be as sensitive and relevant to the cultures we are reaching out to as possible.  There are whole books and conferences out there to bash the other side and their stance on everything from Bible translations to contextualization to mercy ministry vs evangelism/discipleship.  It seems like a lot of these debates are hundreds if not thousands of years old.  So, are we just destined to throw down between the right and left year after year, topic after topic, or are there ways to bring things together?

One side is yelling "sound doctrine and right theology" and the other side is yelling "love, tolerance, and grace".  Both would adamantly say their view is "more Biblical" or "more Christian".  Jesus said that "a kingdom divided against itself will never stand."  Is there any chance of the church coming to the middle and focusing on what we agree on...things like the Great Commandment and the Great Commission or a simple slogan like "Jesus is Lord"?  Or have we made some of the minor issues out to be major and any coming together or move towards the middle would be considered "compromise"?

It seems like God was able to take things like wrath and mercy which seem to be polar opposites and bring them together at the cross.  So, maybe there are other things that seem to be at odds with one another that can be overcome in Christ?

Just thinking out loud and trying to figure out if there is any way out of this mess.  What do you think?