I began my Lenten journey at 7am this morning by attending Catholic Mass. Every Lenten season is an important time for me of introspection and repentance, beginning with the age-old question of deciding how God is calling me to fast. As I prayed this morning, I was reminded of a Lenten blog from 2016 that was posted at the start of a very contentious presidential election cycle, where I revealed that God was calling me to fast from being a jerk. In the midst of the continuing craziness two years later, I find myself in the exact same spot.
I believe as followers of Jesus we instinctively understand that we are called to live with a proactive biblical worldview that seeks the common good of all God’s children, irrespective of politics or partisan persuasion. Jesus calls us to be engaged in the political process to serve the world without becoming entangled in the partisan divide. It’s hard to actively participate in God’s redemptive work when we allow ourselves to be enmeshed in worldly ideologies and values.
Throughout its 2000-year history, the church has always struggled with the temptation to assimilate secular constructs, patriotic loyalties, religious traditions and cultural values into its biblical worldview. The apostle Paul referred to this as “quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ to follow another gospel. It’s not really another gospel” (Gal. 1:6-7).
As Paul reminded the Church at Ephesus, Christ is the basis for our unity – not partisan alignment. “Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace.” (Eph. 2:14-15).
We must make biblical faith the determining guide for our political ideology rather than using partisan political ideology as the determining factor for our theology. Ultimately, left or right, red or blue ideologies are human systems that operate quite comfortably without any sense of accountability or dependence upon God.
Jesus provided the ultimate example. He refused to accommodate the gospel to the political demands of Caesar, the right-wing militant response of the Zealots, the liberal agenda of the Sadducees, the status quo politic of the Herodians or the graceless theology of the Pharisees. Jesus calls us to do the same, choosing first to follow him in obedience to God’s kingdom mission for the common good of the world God loves.
This Lent, let’s once again fast from sacrificing our Christian faith on the altar of partisanship. Let’s stop being a jerk.
Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus and global church ambassador for Ginghamsburg Church, served for nearly four decades as the lead pastor and chief dreamer of Ginghamsburg and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike is also the founder and chief strategist of Passionate Churches, LLC, which specializes in developing pastors, church staff and church lay leaders through coaching, training, consulting and facilitation services. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. Mike’s newest book is Made for a Miracle: from your ordinary to God’s extraordinary (Abingdon Press).