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Things I don’t get to do

January 9, 2017

Like it or not, political power in the U.S. is about to shift.  Social liberals have been shoved to the back benches.  We are moving into an era where there will no more fines for religious charities and hospitals, no more transgender-bathroom directives handed down from the White House, no more blatant support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, no more endorsing of moral and religious pluralism for everybody except overt Christians.

The political sides are shifting.  Democrats who complained incessantly for the last eight years about Republican  tactics of stalling, blocking and refusing to govern are now preparing to do just that. Meanwhile the Republican leader of the Senate is calling those tactics; the very ones he bragged about over the last eight years, “childish.”

In this new situation some cheer, some fear.  In the white evangelical world over 80% are cheering.  The amount of “it’s our time now” commentary I’ve heard in the church is breathtaking.  Not long ago I listened to a godly and well-meaning man wax eloquent about the golden era President Trump is about to usher in.  There seems to be little concern that, among our black and Hispanic fellow-evangelicals, about the same 80% does not agree.

Wherever you and I stand on this cheer/fear continuum, as evangelical Christians we are denied by our faith some of the things that our political selves yearn to do.  Politically this is an accelerated time of mocking, of revenge, of rooting for the other to fail, of false slanted or wildly exaggerated “news,” of putting those who disagree with us in baskets of deplorables.  (Trump supporters – don’t try and deny he does it too; he just puts different people in the baskets.)

All this is off limits to me.  I have to listen to others and be willing to learn.  I have to love people whose political and social stances are repugnant to me and make sure they feel that love, I have to know that I am no more (and no less) in desperate need of grace than they are.  I can’t question the faith of fellow-Christians who disagree with me politically.  In an era where both truth and civility are diminishing I need to relentlessly dispense both.  I need to speak the truth in love and make sure the truth is heard and the love is felt.

Some time ago Tim Keller outlined eight things that characterized early Christians under Rome’s repressive rules:  They opposed bloodthirsty sports and violent entertainment, they opposed serving in the military, they opposed abortion and infanticide; they empowered women; they opposed sex outside of marriage and homosexual activity; they encouraged radical support for the poor; they encouraged the mixing of races and classes; they insisted that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  Isn’t it odd that if you go through that list you will find that today several might be called “conservative” and others “progressive?”    As an evangelical Christian I am not allowed to pick and choose the ones I like.

It’s a lot harder to be a Christian than either a Democrat or Republican, isn’t it?

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