I have too long neglected this blog of mine.  I’m going to try to be better.  Regular life consumes you, you know?  My kids are insane, my job is demanding, and I have to have some peace.  Writing used to be my peace, and now I’m going to make it happen again.

As of recently, I’ve been a bit outspoken about the current political and social climate.  Ok, so that’s not actually “recently.”  I’ve always been this way.

My poor mother.  I think I’m slowly killing her.  I’ve apologized multiple times to her because she unwillingly gave birth to an activist.

For those of you who I am friends with (and my equally poor family) who are starting to believe that I’ve gone off the liberal deep-end, I want to explain how I arrived at my certain set of conclusions.

Disclaimer:  I’m not baiting anyone with this post.  If you respond to this with anything other than civil discord, please use the backspace button liberally.  I am simply offering an ideology that explains me, my viewpoints, and my beliefs.  I’m not trying to change your mind about anything.  There’s this cool thing about the internet:  you can see something you disagree with and continue moving on about your life.  Thought provocation is my intent, not pot stirring.  However, you are also able to keep your spoon out my pot.  I’m not saying you can’t respond in disagreement.  I’m only saying that if you do, respond as a thoughtful adult.

So, here’s the thing:  In the past few months, it has become overwhelmingly clear that the religion I prescribe to and the political party I vote alongside have become particularly muddled.  We, and the world around us, have begun to use “Christian” and “Republican” interchangeably.

I will give you this:  Traditionally, Republican values adhere to a standard of Judeo-Christian values that we believe make the world a better place – personal responsibilities, traditional marriage and family, and a religion-centered community.

So what happens when your party line starts to stray to the right (or left) of that?  What if it happens so slowly that we don’t even notice it?  What if it is so far gone that we have to make a personal decision to break from the interchangeable use of “Christian” and “Republican” and just pick one because they no longer work together?

This is where I am.  I’m provoking you to thought with this one, hopefully.  Stick with me.

We tend to throw out-of-context Bible verses at each other to justify our political stances.  Christians are the best keyboard warriors.  I know, because I am one, admittedly so.

Admitting is the first step to recovery.

However, the Bible has ONE context.  ONE:  The miraculous saving work of Christ Jesus, and how to live a life to reflect Him and His glory.

When we take the Bible out of context to justify our views, we are tarnishing that miraculous saving work.  We are spreading an unclear and unrealistic message about how Christians are supposed to live and breathe.  We are exalting ourselves above our Christ.

This is a big no-no, people.

So, after lots of prayer, study, and in the context of that miraculous saving work of Christ Jesus, here is my biblical world view:

I AM COMMANDED TO LOVE:
We are given specific commands.  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  

If we’re loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, we’re also loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Why?  Because it’s a natural reaction to loving God.  Not loving our neighbor as ourself means we’re putting ourselves ahead of them, and ahead of God.  We become the ruler and the commander.  When we are loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, our heart, soul, and mind transform into what God sees and what God wants, none of which revolves solely around us.  Keep in mind that our neighbor probably doesn’t look like us, think like us, talk like us, or believe like us.  If you only have neighbors who look like you, open your doors a little wider.

I AM COMMANDED TO HOPE:
Yes, hope is a command.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Fear is the father of doubt and worry.  Over and over again, God tells us not to be afraid.  Why?  Because God asks us to do scary things.  Talk to this person, take a stand for this issue, place ourselves in danger, risk a loss.  Let’s be honest here:  God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son.  God asked Moses to demand the undemandable from Pharaoh.  He asked Esther to do the same.  He asked Paul to keep going after he was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and left to die.  These are scary things.  I certainly would do more than blink twice if God asked me to go to such lengths.  And it didn’t turn out so well to those who let fear rule.  Here’s looking at you, Jonah.

But God is not going to let us do scary things alone.  This is where the hope comes in.  He promises He will be with us wherever we go.  Does this mean ultimate safety and protection?  Not necessarily – Paul can attest to such.  However, the promise of eternal glory is a lot greater than keeping me out of harm’s way in this short time.  The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of that hope (Ephesians 1), so we can rest in that hope because God is with us all the time, even in the scary stuff.

I AM COMMANDED TO SEEK JUSTICE, LOVE MERCY, AND WALK HUMBLY:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

These are the things that God says are good, so these are the things I should do.  And in all honesty, they are not that hard.  We’re just too stubborn to do them.
Seek justice:  Speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8), Care for the fatherless and the widow (Isaiah 1:17), and seeking the Lord means understanding His justice (Proverbs 28:5).
Love mercy:  We have been given mercy, and so we must extend it (1 Peter 2:10).
Walk humbly:  This is the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8).

I AM COMMANDED TO BOLDNESS:
‘And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4) 

Right after Peter and John were released from trial by the Sanhedrin, the community of believers in Jerusalem spoke the above prayer for boldness.  God answers that prayer swiftly with the Holy Spirit and, despite the threats around, they continue to speak and preach and teach with boldness.

God still answers this prayer with us.  He is the source of our boldness in regard to His witness.

I AM A CITIZEN OF GOD’S KINGDOM FIRST:
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)  

Since we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8), God’s kingdom is where we reside.  We are merely sojourners and exiles (1 Peter 2), so therefore, we may not prescribe to the political climate around us.  We must answer to God’s commands before the laws of the land.  Take Daniel, for example.  Law was given that directly opposed the Word of God, and Daniel had to break the law to serve God first.  But God’s protection was with Daniel at all times (there’s that “hope” thing again).

SO WHAT NOW:
If these are the tenets by which I live, I cannot and must not remain silent about ideologies, legislations, and persons who oppose them.  This does not mean that I speak without love (1 Corinthians 13) because I’ll never reach a soul without love.

I’m a clanging cymbal in rehabilitation, and God reminds me of this often.

But unfortunately, this means I’m separating myself from Americanized Christian culture at this point.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll reiterate it here:  If your relationship with God doesn’t shape your politics, then your politics are shaping your relationship with God.

Don’t make politics or patriotism your idol.

Be these things:

He {Jesus} said:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5 – The Sermon on the Mount)

So no, I’m not a card-carrying liberal.  I’m simply removing my Americanism from my world-view.  There’s a great big world out there, and we are not the center of it.  A world that God created, and people that God created in His image.  People that Jesus commanded that we reach for His Name (Matthew 28 – The Great Commission).  We belong to a different Kingdom that will reign long after the American Empire, and the other kingdoms of this world.  THAT is the one I’m concerned about, and THAT is the one that I want everyone to go to with me.

Pursue peace, justice, mercy, humility, boldness, and the attitude of Christ Jesus above all else.  Choose wisdom, kindness, gentleness, salt, and light in your relationships with your neighbors, so that they can see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.

That was long, and I’m sorry.  Thank you for sticking with me if you got this far.  Go get yourself some Starbucks as a reward.  I love you, Mom.  I hope you’ve recovered from your heart attack after seeing that I posted rogue again.
PS: I voted Republican in the last election.  Just not for the guy who won.