Christians And Diplomacy
Becoming a Christian does not make you right.
Saved, yes! Eternally secure, yes!
But will you always be right? Not necessarily. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
- Christianity is free from error, Christians are not.
- God is absolutely free from confusion, believers are always vulnerable.
- The Bible is without error but it’s rather arrogant to think you understand it perfectly.
- God is all-knowing. Christians must learn everything.
And to do that they must unravel the thread of truth from the tangle of “Christian” voices claiming to know it.
Christians do enjoy many benefits.
- A Christian is saved, born again, and Spirit inhabited.
- Christians are children of God, have a new perspective, and a relationship with God.
- Christians can change for the better but there’s no guarantee. Some go backward.
What is neither promised nor even insinuated is that on the day of salvation you’ll be blessed with instant knowledge of the truth and a well-developed sense of discernment.
Those are things you’ll have to work for. Salvation is instantaneous, learning the truth is a process.
The Starting Point
All Christians start off as babes. New Christians are nowhere yet. The fact that Christians are commanded to learn the truth means they don’t already have it.
Believing in God is not a synonym for knowing all truth or being completely reliable.
Reliability, of course, is a character issue and a topic for another post but it’s important to keep in mind that Christians are NEW creations, not FINAL creations and they will never be finished products in this life.
Perfection comes only in the next life and for good reason. It’s difficult enough being a saved sinner in an imperfect world. Perfect Christians would clash intolerably.
But back to my point.
Christians start off with a completely new nature but very little in the way of knowledge or understanding. There are many directions in which their learning can go many of which are wrong.
The Christian community illustrates this reality.
If a full understanding of all truth occurred simultaneously with salvation then Christians would all agree. They don’t.
Lutherans don’t agree with Presbyterians, Presbyterians don’t agree with Baptists, Baptists don’t agree with Charismatics, and they all disagree most with Catholics.
There are genuine believers in every one of those groups, but not for the reasons you think. It may have nothing to do with evangelistic fervor or Gospel sharing or Jesus following.
The reason Christians are found in every group is that Jesus desperately wants to save souls and readily saves any person in any place at any time under any circumstance, in or out of church. The only things required are repentance and faith.
Jesus will work inside any group. He is not deterred by sectarianism. And sectarianism can’t prevent salvation even when it muddles the truth.
All the groups I mentioned do believe in God and hold the Bible as true but their disagreements over the Bible’s meaning are wide and varied and can cause vicious fights.
I’m not saying the different groups are bad.
I’m not saying that only one group is right.
Bluntly speaking, they’re all wrong. Some more than others but the reality is when two groups fight over some specific truth, it may be that neither group is right.
The differences don’t make them bad but the fighting does.
And they do fight. Religion has a long history of friction, not just between Christian and non-Christian groups but Christian on Christian also.
In such situations, truth is lost in the fray. Everyone loses.
The issues around which differences develop are never settled so we’ve changed directions.
The thing unifying Christians now is scary.
It’s not truth. It’s not Jesus. It’s not the Bible.
It’s politics and that’s concerning because the fallout from political fractures has a wider damage radius and is much more difficult to mend than a simple church split. Christians have become fascinated with politics.
Sadly, they’re handling political differences the way they handle church differences. Fight!
The motivations to engage politically are noble: the love of Jesus, the love of America, and a desire to keep America great are the driving principles but politics is not an effective tool to accomplish that.
The best way to change America is to change the hearts of Americans and the only Person Who can do that is Jesus. He does that best and most often when Christians live Gospel-centered lives. Manipulating the legal system can take us only so far.
The Gospel is grace. Politics is law.
People are saved by grace and enslaved by law. You might argue that we need law and order and I would agree but only to a point. We don’t preach the law for salvation? And we don’t expect people to get to heaven because they are law-abiding?
Law and grace don’t mix and never will. If anything they fight.
Replacing grace with politics is like pouring water into hot oil and that is exactly what’s happening in America.
It’s interesting that the two most evangelistically vibrant churches in recent history, Thomas Road Baptist Church and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, both veered into politics.
And evangelism faded.
Maybe the Devil did this. He knew how tempting the political apple would be and pushed it. The philosophical gleam was too tantalizing to ignore.
He knew the diversion would take us off track and it did.
And now we have a whole generation of Christian folks focused on politics and vying for political power. They want to be in office. They want to carry the placards and shout the cause.
They’re aggressive, adamant, insistent, unyielding, and occasionally gun-waving. Cheek-turning, which has never had much traction, has ceased to be a thing.
Today we have a new type of Pilgrim. One shaped by the modern era only in this version, Pilgrims are not taking their ball and going home, they’re taking over. Another scary thought.
The new leaders, the Christian ones stepping into politics, claim America has strayed from its Christian heritage. They make strong, cleverly worded arguments and declare their intent to bring it back into the fold.
If you’re a Christian, the reasoning is deceptively inviting. What believer doesn’t want America to be truly Christian?
But the idea raises several questions all of which should give us pause before electing the next popular Christian leader to public office:
- At what point did simply sharing the Gospel with the people we love to hate, take a backseat to political wrangling?
The Gospel has the power to change a heart. Government legislation can never, has never, will never.
When a person’s heart is owned by Jesus, they think twice before engaging in the behaviors that Christians find repugnant.
If you want to change the world, great! Get out of politics and share the Gospel.
- Which version of Christianity will be the mold?
Once Christian politicians take over the government, which religious viewpoint will drive the agenda? Will it be the Catholic version, the Baptist version, the Lutheran version, or what?
Maybe they will make divorce illegal again. Many churches still teach that implicitly if not explicitly.
- Should a person be considered a qualified candidate for political office only because they are Christian?
For me, that’s a hard no!
I know many Christians I wouldn’t trust to sweep the streets, no disrepect meant toward street sweepers.
Even older, more experienced Christians may not be suitable. Younger Christians haven’t been proven yet and older Christians may have settled into a version of truth that doesn’t sit too well with the mainstream. Group-think often takes over. Negotiating legislative outcomes is too much like compromising the faith for the more established types.
One of the most important skills for officeholders is diplomacy, the very thing many Christians disdain.
If Christian politicians take over, can we expect them to fight and disagree as readily in Congress as they do in church? That seems to be the tendency now. The American public, taking cues from legislative grumblings, can’t even agree on vaccines for the pandemic.
Things have gotten turned around. Anti-vaxxers (conservatives) are now Pro-Choice and Vaxxers (liberals) are Pro-Life!
Will it get worse? Can we expect more of the same?
- How does a Christian love an enemy when the enemy is also Christian?
If you have a hard time loving a serial murderer, I understand. You get a pass. Serial murderers are the worst kind of enemy. Not easy people to love.
But enemies come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities. Sometimes they sit in the next pew over.
In the course of my ministry, I’ve spoken in a couple hundred churches. More than a few had stories of shouting matches, fist-a-cuffs, and splits. One had bloodstains on the floor from a knife fight.
If Christians, who should find it relatively easy to love other Christians, can’t get along, how will they manage to love a mixed legislative body creating laws for a diverse population of folks?
Christians don’t talk much about loving their enemies. They mention enemies but mostly because that is a good way to define who was in and who was out. It’s a warning. Enemies are the bad guys. Stay clear of them.
Not love them or pray for them, just separate from them.
We need to rethink that. I can’t say that I have the answer but I do know that Jesus taught us to “love your enemies!” He expanded on the idea graphically. Just two of the nine verses covering this topic, make the point clearly.
Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)
That’s just two verses. The rest are even stronger but I’m not sure we can handle just these two.
Where do Christians fit into that directive? We are the ones who should give the love but it seems we are the ones who need it?