Anybody tired of being asked about your thoughts on politics? Maybe it’s because I stopped wearing my political views on my sleeves, but I get asked a lot about it.
It’s always tough, because I usually get asked by people who have really strong views. And half of them are diametrically opposed to the other. I think most people want a simple black and white answer on the conservative/liberal or right/left scale, and if I did that, I would offend at least 50% of people who ask.
I’ve never been content to live my life by averages. So let’s see if I can offend 100% of people by what I genuinely believe. :) I’m not trying to be intentionally provocative, but if you tell me you weren’t offended by reading this, I’m going to assume you didn’t read the whole thing. My own views offend myself! And it’s because I genuinely believe this is the standard God has called for us and that standard is really tough.
Politics do not matter as much as we think they matter.
Yes, I care about my school board, and yes, I care about our health care, and our deficit, and solar, and social security, and the military and all of that stuff. And reasonable people can and will disagree about the “best” outcome for each of those things, and the “best” way to approach those things. And reasonable people will even sometimes be wrong and have to change their minds, sometimes multiple times, on those.
But, at a certain point, I have to think that these things aren’t as important as we sometimes make them out to be.
And I think the underlying issue is this: Politics changes law, but only the Gospel can change hearts.
The law is important, yes. It governs right behavior between people. But there is a finite limit to what the law can actually do.
The best example of this I can think of is divorce. There have been times when I thought if I ruled the world, I would declare divorce illegal. God hates divorce, and after volunteering with students and seeing so many families ripped apart by divorce, if I could just stop and say, “Let’s not do this any more”, I would. Divorce is awful.
But that’s just changing the law. And changing the law will lead to changing behavior — namely, that no one gets divorced any more! Yay!
But if we declared divorce illegal tomorrow, not one mom that’s planning on leaving her family tomorrow would stay. Not one husband who abused his kids today would stop tomorrow. Not one marital fight would be stopped. Not one lick of positive difference made anywhere. Except, “We stopped divorce! Woohoo!” Not.
Because, here’s the issue, the law modifies behavior. That’s just what the law is.
The law changes behavior, but only the Gospel changes hearts.
Let’s be very clear when we talk about the Gospel here. I don’t mean church attendance. Church attendance doesn’t change hearts. I don’t mean serving in a church somewhere. I don’t even mean reading your Bible.
I mean the Gospel, the Good News that there is a God, that He loves you and doesn’t hate you, and that He wants to take all your past mistakes and on-purposes (sin), wipe it clean and give you a new heart and a new mind and a new slate. That’s radical. Because God meant for it to be.
So, while I hate divorce, I have decided that working towards its legal end is irrelevant. I want to make divorce irrelevant, not illegal. So, my unique contribution happens to be where I’m most gifted and most called and that’s bringing the Gospel to middle school guys. If the Gospel infects their hearts as I hope it will, they will grow up knowing God has uniquely called and gifted them as leaders, as fathers, as husbands. They will know to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. They will know to lead their families as they follow Christ.
This is the long game, for sure. And it’s a total crapshoot. (oh, and politics aren’t!?) But in following my gifting and my calling, I’m bringing the Gospel to a group of people. And if they let the Gospel invade their hearts, I believe tremendous, big, huge and impossible things will happen.
I have zero doubt that if we all followed our calling to be the Church and used the gifts the way God calls us to, that we could make irrelevant so much of what we wish was illegal.
Women and mothers could invest in girls, giving them the Gospel that says that they’re worth everything and that they don’t need to hook up with some guy to be valuable. We could make abortion irrelevant without ever making it illegal.
Men and fathers could invest in their sons, giving them the Gospel that says that they should love their wives as Christ loves the Church. We could make divorce irrelevant long before we can make it illegal.
Christians could take care of orphans, giving them hope and a home. We could close down orphanages, period.
Christians could show grace and love like Jesus did to the marginalized and fringes of society. We could end school bullying, we could end hopelessness and despair. We could do so much.
This next part is just for anybody that claims to be a Christian. If you’re not, you’re off the hook. If you’re not a Christian, this might even make you never want to become one. That’s ok.
But if you’re a Christian, you need to go and make your own list. Where are you passionate? Where has God called you, gifted you, equipped you to serve? Because if we all stopped ignoring that voice deep inside that says we need to be doing something more about some segment of society, then what the law says becomes irrelevant.
Only the Gospel can change society from the inside out like this. Because only the Gospel changes hearts.
So, here’s the deal. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you need to be redirecting your gifts, your time and your money towards something bigger than yourself. God gave me many gifts and talents, and I use some of them to make money–and possibly one day I will use them to feed my family, which is honorable–but if all I was doing was taking all of that and redirecting it to a nicer house and a nicer car, are you kidding me?
If you’ve gone through all this list and thought of something we could change worldwide if we all did what we are supposed to do anyway, and you’re thinking of not doing, are you kidding me!?
If you’ve got money, and gifts and time (or making the time! you have it!) and you’re not consistently, significantly and strategically pointing it towards something bigger, are you kidding me!?
Are you freaking kidding me? The Church — worldwide, universal, invisible hands and feet of Jesus — is the only God granted custodian of the Gospel. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church — so we don’t have to act out of self interest or survival. If you’ve seen what the Gospel can do to change hearts and you’re not all over bringing it or using it in some way, are you kidding me?
If you are a Christian, I firmly believe that you have to do something with the Gospel. Jesus died for it, so did all of His disciples, and millions of followers since. You’re just going to sit on your hands and let other people do it? You’re going to give up your God-given right to be a part of this movement? You’re a Christian, and you don’t want to be involved? Really?
How do you get involved? That’s between you and God. I know it looks a thousand different ways. I know for some of you, the way you serve is going to be — for a time and season — your family. Some of you need to be much better moms or dads. Some of you men need to step up and lead your family much better than you ever have. Man up.
Some of you need to find the ministry God has called you to. Maybe it’s taking care of a cousin, someone elderly, or a complete stranger. Maybe it’s adopting. Maybe it’s sharing words of hope and affirmation to someone that really needs it. Maybe it’s reading Bible stories to toddlers at your church. Maybe it’s running a soup kitchen.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe you need to just do something and ask God to open doors and let opportunity rain like cats and dogs. I firmly believe that opportunity is a prayer God answers faithfully, consistently, and always with a yes. Maybe I’m wrong.
Come on Christians. We are part of what God is doing in the world. We have the keys to change society in our hands, and it doesn’t matter who gets elected, and it doesn’t matter what Congress says or does.
The Gospel changes everything, absolutely everything, beginning with the hearts of men.
Now you will understand why, the next time you ask me my views on politics, my answer is: meh.
The Gospel is so much more powerful. So much more exciting. So much better.
based on a journal entry I made while recently flying 9 hours from London to Entebbe, Uganda