On March 3, 2011, Phil Zuckerman published an entry for the Huffington Post blog, called “Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus.” A friend of mine, a liberal one at that, posted it on her Facebook page. Given we were college roommates – and I’d like to think myself a fairly tolerant Evangelical Christian – I chose to read the article first, before I got out my torch and pitchfork.
Generally speaking, I’m not one to get up in arms about how people on the outside define my religion. I have found it is rather foolish to get mad when people try and tell me what I believe. So, when Zuckerman writes, “…Evangelicals love Jesus for what he does for them. Through his magical grace, and by shedding his precious blood, Jesus saves Evangelicals from everlasting torture in hell, and guarantees them a premium, luxury villa in heaven,” I can’t call him a liar. What Jesus did on the Cross for me and other followers of Christ is the central point of our faith.
Huston Smith, as quoted in Will Willimon’s book Thank God It’s Friday (p. 10), describes the most notable, most peculiar aspect of three of the major world religions. He defines Islam as prayer; Judaism as family and Christianity as forgiveness. It is true to say my life would not be the same, rich and full of purpose, without my relationship with Jesus. I know – I tried it without Him for 29 years.
I know lots of people who support a different political party from me – and those friends feel exactly the same way I do about Jesus. Another dear friend of mine and one of my spiritual mentors is a declared Democrat. She happens to be married to a staunch Republican, also a Christian, but he often gets extremely upset in discussing politics because they don’t see eye to eye.
It gets me wondering – who is right? Zuckerman’s general motif is that we as Evangelicals, who espouse to follow Christ, vote for people who pass laws that are the opposite of Jesus’ teaching. According to the data he presents, I cannot disagree. I think Christians did a much better job living out the principles of Our Savior in the 18th century than we do today. It was a period called The Great Awakening and it is a high point in the history of the Church.
So, in today’s post-modern political climate: who is more Christian – liberals or conservatives? Arguably, each is standing for issues which are important. But there is always at catch. Being Christian and liberal, you might have to vote for a candidate who is pro-choice and funds abortion clinics. Being Christian and conservative, you might have to vote for a candidate who is pro-capitalism, passing legislation that helps businesses make the most money, at the expense of their employees.
Do we settle for being, as the old saying goes, damned if we do or damned if we don’t? That not only seems counter-productive, but counter-Christian too. And not much seems to be getting us where we want to be as a nation these days.
If you reading this post for an answer, I apologize; I am not qualified to give you one. What I do know is that my faith is very personal, but that doesn’t mean I get to live it in secret. I also know that Jesus would like me to use my voice, in the most God – and people – honoring way possible. Jesus wants me to, as I can, address the injustice and evil around me. I keep in the back of my mind the knowledge that things are not going to stay this way forever. For everyone, there will an accounting for every thought, decision and action.
Matthew 25:31-46 reveals the scene – Jesus is back, having assumed His throne over Heaven and Earth. Pretty quickly, He makes it clear which choices are right: assisting the needy; comforting those in pain and ministering to those in bondage. As an Evangelical Christian, my response to this world is not determined by my political affiliations. In the end, Jesus is not going to hold up a tally sheet of how I voted.
He is going to hold up the tablet of my heart and see how I demonstrated how much I love Him by how I treated others. The Apostle James says it best, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:18).
It would be great if we could do away with political parties and do what is best for everyone. I guess that is why we have political parties in the first place because nobody agrees how to make that happen. But I will challenge my fellow Christians to study Scripture and history – and then assert your voice. Don’t just pick someone because they claim one party over the other. Make the best choice you can and live your faith where you are. In the end, that is all that is going to matter!