I intended to post an election prayer for our nation. But as I type these words we continue to await the final result. So I’ll vent.
This election cycle has revealed a polarization that is far more severe than I wanted to believe. We’ve been feeling this in our politics for months. But I’m more concerned about what I see in the Church than what I see in Washington. Much has been written about the failure of evangelicalism, the whiting out of the faith, and the rise of the nones.* (*Nones choose no religious affiliation, often in response to the disappointment with toxic and hypocritical institutions).
If only we believed what God has revealed about both righteousness and justice. I promise you, it would be a game changer.
This election season has exposed how prone we are to advocate for either one or the other. But God always demands both. In fact, truly sustainable change demands both. To go all the way with righteousness, you have to go all in with justice. And to go all in with justice, you have to go all in with righteousness.
Our failure to recognize this is having far greater repercussions than we realize.
There is no escaping the absolute need for a politic, ethic and commitment of both personal righteousness and public justice. I cannot say this emphatically enough: Our neglect in one always corrodes our credibility in the other.
Conservative and liberal Christians have missed each other on these twin towers of righteousness and justice for too long. Often in the name of “staying in my lane.” But if you follow Jesus, your “lane” includes both towers, whether your echo chambers hit the like button or not. The true Christian’s lane includes repentance of personal sin and reformation of oppressive structures. Boldly denouncing sexual immorality and providing compassionate help for women with unplanned pregnancies. Insisting upon a strong work ethic and remembering the poor. Creating a culture of personal responsibility and a book of Acts-like mutuality.
Becoming single issue voters has had a devastating effect on both our unity and our credibility. Typically, the single issue voter becomes a bold prophet against the political sins of the opponent, but a gentle, enabling accomplice against the sins of their own party. It’s condescendingly hypocritical to inform people that their “silence is compliance” when it comes to our pet issues. But my silence is the privilege I claim to stay in my lane.
We have acted like complex issues are simple. Stop it. They are not. To vote Biden does NOT make someone complicit in the sin of abortion. To vote Trump does NOT make someone complicit in the sin of racism. Stop being played like a puppet. And stop insulting people who really have wrestled, prayed, fasted, and read the same books you read. It truly is possible to come to different conclusions.
Why is it so rare to find a social media feed that reflects both justice and righteousness? Why do we feel the need to minimize one to advance the other? Why have believers been such easy prey for our enemy to divide and conquer? The invisible, spiritual forces behind the visible, political forces have manipulated people of faith in ways that will take generations to recover. We have traded way too much of our birthright for a bowl of political porridge. We need to repent.
Oh that Christians would reclaim our other-worldy wonder. That we would stand out as the one group with enough vision – and courage – to advance both righteousness and justice. Even if it costs us. Even if other lane-dwellers unfollow us. When our politicians do right, let’s have the humility to be their greatest allies. But when they do evil, let’s have the guts to be their greatest critics.
And oh yeah, blessed are the peacemakers.