This week is a black eye. There’s no way around it. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum we can all agree that the impeachment process is a terrible place to be.
If you haven’t seen, the Impeachment inquiry hearings started today and is being covered by all the major networks. It’s almost impossible to hide from.
So how do we, Jesus followers, respond? How do we engage with people that we agree with and maybe more importantly, how do we engage with those we disagree with?
Here are a few thoughts I would ask that you think through before you do anything.
Just don’t. No one listens or cares on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. No one. You’ll have better luck arguing with a wall than you will with someone on social media. People will say and type things on a post they would never say to someone’s face. With the power of a phone and behind a screen our base personalities are allowed to flourish. And the more time we spend on it, the worse it gets.
Social media has given us this false sense of security and importance. Not everyone’s opinions or thoughts are of equal importance. I am not an expert in all areas of life so I am not as qualified as others. If someone asks questions about theology or biblical history I can hold my own but if someone asks about geopolitical issues I may have opinions but no expertise.
The early church leader Paul wrote in his letter to the church in the city of Corinth, “You say, “I’m allowed to do anything” – But not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24) Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
We all need to be self-aware with social media and take a step back. Take a breath. Delete that post that makes you feel good but isn’t helpful.
Treat Others Better than Yourself
In the letter, written by the early church leader Paul, entitled Philippians Paul talks about what our attitude towards each other should be. In the second chapter he says, “…if you have a heart, if you care then do me a favor; Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help other get ahead…forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand.” (MSG version)
He is telling all the Jesus followers reading the letter how they should be treating each other. You cannot do these things if you’re are yelling at people across the aisle. You cannot do these things if current events have gotten you so angry that you lash out at anyone that doesn’t hold your particular view.
I love how the Message version puts that last line, “…forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Difficult to do? Yes.
Still what we’re called to do? Yes.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is forget ourselves and lend someone that hand. You will very rarely argue someone out of their position but you can move people if you love & care for them.
How did Jesus Respond?
Jesus lived in a Jerusalem that was being occupied by the Roman army. Rome had conquered Jerusalem in 63 BCE. So by the time Jesus showed up they had been there for a while. You had men & women that were working for the occupiers, men & women that were zealots, or freedom fighters and everything in between.
But how did Jesus respond to the foreign dictators? We see a small glimpse when He encountered a Roman officer asking for Jesus to come heal a servant. When Jesus offered to go with him to see the servant the officer responded by saying no need. I know all you have to do is say the word and he’ll be healed. In the letter John (where this is recorded) chapter 8 verse 10 it says, “When Jesus heard this he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!”
That would have infuriated the freedom fighters and those that leaned their way.
Jesus also brought a zealot (or freedom fighter who were aggressively opposed to the Roman forces) named Simon (Luke 6:15). Jesus made him a disciple as well. Angering those siding with the Romans.
Jesus also brought a Jewish traitor named Matthew into his inner circle. Matthew collected taxes along a busy trade route. He had a certain percentage he owed to the government but anything extra he collected was for him. Jesus made him a disciple.
Again angering those opposed to Rome.
Jesus was an equal opportunity savior. It didn’t matter to him where you stood before you met him. What mattered was where you stood after meeting him. Both men must have had to lay down deep-seated political ideologies and preferences to work together and follow Jesus.
Jesus is Greater Than
Jesus is greater than political parties, governments, earthly kingdoms, presidents, kings, queens, governors, anything!
Yes, we should care. And yes I believe and will advocate that we vote. But we cannot lose sight that we serve something far greater and far more impactful than government. We serve the King of Kings. We serve the Alpha and Omega.
When I remember that, I understand the actual role government should play in my life. Government should be there to protect and to accomplish the will of the people. My role is to accomplish the will of God. And those two things don’t always mix.
But I can use government to help me to fulfill that. I can advocate for the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, the refugee, the least of these. I can speak to my representatives to fight for them not in my place but along- side me.
Jesus is greater than impeachment. He is greater than the Democrats or the Republicans. He is greater than the United States of America or any other nation state. When his church forgets that we get into useless squabbles. We battle to win the argument but we lose people in the fight.
When we remember that our mission is far greater than a political system we can change the communities around us.
You want to see real, lasting change? Put as much effort, time & resources into the local church as you do to political parties that don’t care about you and see what happens. Schools, hospitals, clinics, literacy programs, ESL classes, nutrition programs, etc. start happening. Impoverished neighborhoods will flourish, families will heal, inequality will perish and entire communities will be better!
Of course we want people to have a relationship with Jesus like we do. If we didn’t we would be sucky Jesus followers. But we want them to experience his love and for most people that happens first through us. And they cannot experience that love if we write them off because of who they voted for or what they think about the impeachment.
And before you @ me just remember that Jesus met you right where you were, without condition, and loved you. We owe the people around us the same.
My entire point to all of this is that Jesus is calling his followers to be better. Better on social media, better in their view points, better in the advocacy, better in their communities. With all the negativity taking place our communities could use some Jesus love.
It starts with us, with you. Right here, right now.
Let’s forget ourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.