November is Coming (We Can Own This Election pt 2)

November is coming.

Decisions will be made. And we, the Body of Christ, will need to move forward together. Whatever the outcome.

While everyone’s eyes are on the presidential campaign, there is a dangerous, stealth campaign threatening the church and operating largely undetected.

In conversations everywhere, I hear litmus tests – “How can you be a Christian and vote for Trump?” “How can you call yourself a Christian and support Biden?” “Christians don’t vote for killing babies.” “Christians don’t vote for liars and narcissists.” “Christians support law and order – why aren’t you marching for police?” “Christians support equality and justice – why aren’t you posting BLM signs?” “Christians aren’t capitalists.” “Christians aren’t socialists.”

And while public rhetoric swirls into a firestorm, quietly, so quietly, many Christians are growing to fear one another, to fear asking sincere questions, to wonder if anyone can really know truth, to withdraw from transparent, vulnerable fellowship with other believers – a process neatly facilitated by social distancing and fear of spreading a deadly virus.

It’s not the powers behind the podiums that are pulling the strings of this campaign against the church.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV

We aren’t the first believers to face unprecedented times. Germany. China. Korea. Nigeria. India. Venezuela. Countless others have been tested and sorted by political and cultural unrest. We can forget self-pity and we can drop the idea that American believers are uniquely chosen to face such a trial. This is one thing that is NOT unprecedented, not in the life of the church.

Jesus walked the earth in such times. He demonstrated a Way, in fact, became The Way that we can walk through these next weeks into November and beyond. We can own this election season, but we must commit to following the Way that Jesus was. Here are the next three steps:

H.U.M.I.L.I.T.Y. Peter was a fisherman from a family of fisherman. One thing Peter knew was fishing. He listened to Jesus preach and boy, Jesus sure knew the business of preaching and teaching, but after the sermon, Jesus told Peter to take out the boat and let down the nets. Peter humored Jesus but with a smug self-assurance that he could predict the outcome. Hours later, Peter is kneeling on a deck hip-deep in fish, humbled and in awe. The American church, we think we know our business. We understand the relationship of politics, power, and promoting Christ. Or, we used to. But we must be ready to receive the humbling when Jesus brings it by flipping all we thought we knew on its head. He is still the only head of this church and He doesn’t need a running mate. It’s time to hit the deck on our knees and confess our sinfulness so He can make us fishers of men.

Operate Off a Completely Different Matrix. The people of Jesus’ day found Him unsettling because He didn’t present like anything they’d experienced before. They asked Him why his disciples ate and drank. John’s followers fasted and prayed as did the followers of the Pharisees. Here’s the matrix, Jesus. Here’s what we’ve come to recognize from religion. Why don’t you fit in this box? And Jesus told a parable about new wine in old wineskins. He went off grid and calls everyone who follows Him to “come outside the camp.” There is a path but it’s not one that’s well-trod. The writer of Hebrews says this, 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:11-14 ESV

Remember This is Not Our Home When I visit other countries, I respect their culture and ways. I engage in traditions that aren’t in conflict with mine, but I certainly wouldn’t participate in practices that contradict my beliefs in human rights, freedom, and justice for all. When we became Christians, we became citizens of a higher kingdom. Because His kingdom comes within us, we inhabit an outpost of glory, but this is not our home. We can only engage in the culture until it contradicts the laws of the kingdom to which we belong. Then, we must humbly explain we follow a different way. When Jesus taught the sermon on the mount it was – and continues to be – a radical departure from the ways of this world. To snipe at, devour, and divide the Body of Christ is not our Way.

We’re falling prey to a dangerous deception perpetrated by the enemy of God who is whispering that we must measure one another by manufactured dividing lines – lines he moves at his whim and we follow. We must excuse ourselves from the false matrix and renew our commitment to the culture of our true homeland in Christ.

That doesn’t mean we have no disagreements but it does mean we remember that what makes a Christian a Christian is not the campaign button he wears on his lapel or the flag she flies or the candidate they support. A person is a Christian who has surrendered him or herself to Jesus Christ, who has received forgiveness for all his or her sins because of His work on the cross, and who has become a new creation, an eternal being, living a Way unrecognizable to those who are yet to be redeemed.

When we disagree, we must do so with humility, respect for free souls, and with an eye to representing the gospel. When we disagree, we must do so keeping our eyes on the campfire lit for us in eternal glory reminding us one day we will be home.

C.S.Lewis wrote these words in his work, The Weight of Glory, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

November will come and go.

The church of Jesus Christ must stand and walk in The Way because we are eternal, and we represent a kingdom that is always focused beyond any single election.

Read part one of this post here. Read the gospels. Remember how Jesus lived.

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