I’d like to add to what I wrote a couple of weeks ago here.
And, I admit, that penning this piece has been a struggle because I’m so weary of of the polarization of our ideologies in this country. I want to to scream at the top of my lungs “Stop it! Do you not remember that Jesus tells us to love each other?!?!?!?!?” But I know that doing so would not enable anyone to hear me. So, I pray for compassion and patience and I choose my words carefully in a very human attempt with God’s help to bring us together behind Jesus. What I’m attempting here is to remind us Whose and who we are: beloved children of God called to live on earth as in heaven.
When we place our identity in a political party we give up our freedom to discern was is right in God’s eyes so that we can stay loyal to the party line. Political parties are defined and organized for the benefit of the leaders of the party. Political parties are meant to exclude not include, to place a defined group of human beings over and above another, and this is never inline with the good news of Jesus.
I’m not saying ignore politics or don’t be involved in governmental activities and actions. Just the opposite in fact. We need to be very aware of what is going on and what our government is doing. But, as Jesus Followers, we must be willing to make our decisions about who to vote for and what policies and laws we support based on the Good News of God, not a human defined political party affiliation.
The good news Jesus brings us isn’t liberal or conservative. The good news is that God loves all of us and wants to be in relationship with each and every human being. God came to us, to live and die as one of us, to rise to life again so that we can turn from the ways of this world toward the life we are created for: living in God’s Kingdom here and now. This is what the word ‘repent’ means, to turn around, to change course, to do a 180.
Jesus extends the invitation “Follow Me” and then leads us away from division, hate, and anger. Jesus leads us, all of us together, on the Way of Love. Jesus leads us toward unity, compassion, and peace. An ‘us versus them’ ideology is not part of Jesus’ Good News message.
The writer of the Good News Story according to Luke gives us these two statements of Jesus:
“John replied, “Master, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he isn’t in our group of followers.” But Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him, because whoever isn’t against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50 CEB)
“Whoever isn’t with me is against me, and whoever doesn’t gather with me, scatters.” (Luke 11:23 CEB)
While at first glance these may seem contradictory, pay attention to the pronouns Jesus uses. In the first instance, he says “you” and in the second he says “me.” It isn’t up to us to determine who’s in and who’s out. Jesus never tells anyone they aren’t allowed to follow him; he does say that we (all of us) have to change the way we see and respond to the world around us when we do. Our part in God’s Kingdom on earth is to follow Jesus, loving God with all of our being and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Following Jesus is invitational, welcoming, hospitable – we gather with Jesus. We gather together with Jesus. Following Jesus isn’t a competition but a companionable journey we all walk together as we participate with God in bringing about God’s Kingdom here and now.
Would you pray with me, please?
Loving God, align our hearts and minds to Your way. Give us eyes to see each other as Your beloved children. Show us how to live on earth as in heaven. Give us the courage, strength, and wisdom to follow Jesus. Help us to always remember Whose and Who we are. Amen.