Okay, I know it’s awkward, but no other label works.
I’ve been thinking and writing about labels a lot recently for two reasons. First, this election cycle is drawing attention to the fact that labels mean different things to different people. Second, I am now the Pastor of a church that has a refreshing history of eschewing labels. Just call us Christians, thank you.
I have a confession. This isn’t the first time I have messed with labels. Years ago a good friend made the mistake of asking me to be a groomsman in his wedding. He made the much bigger of mistake of allowing all of his groomsman to stay in his home while he and his bride were honeymooning. We took full advantage of the opportunity to do a number of destructive things including changing all the labels on the couple's canned goods. (We also painted ‘House of Passion” on the grass in his front yard but that has nothing to do with this post).
Accurate labels help. They help when you are looking for a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, and they help when you are trying to explain who you are and what you believe.
Hence, my new label. I’m an Evanjustirepublicrat.
First of all, I’m committed to certain things that used to be at the center of the evangelicalism. I’m committed to looking to scripture for my foundational beliefs about life and morality. Second, I think everyone needs to make his or her own decision to follow Christ in order to experience spiritual life. And third, I think the church has a responsibility to spread the good news of abundant life in Christ around the world.
Second, I care deeply about justice. The people who rallied against slavery were motivated by a biblical understanding for human dignity, and by a willingness to do anything on their power to correct the wrongs of slavery. It was justice that motivated Christians to insist on child labor laws that outlawed the exploitation of children. It is justice that currently calls us to value the lives of the yet to be born (as well as valuing the mom’s caught in struggles that make abortion seem like their only option). Justice should also cause us to care, among other things, about poverty, failing schools, unequal opportunity, racial reconciliation, human trafficking, and the lives of individuals and families caught in a broken immigration system.
Now about the Repulicrat part of my new identity. I find that both of the current parties speak to certain issues that matter to me as a Christian. I like the fact that Republicans understand the limits of what government can do and stress the importance of personal responsibility. I like the fact that Democrats remind us that many aspects of the current system are broken in ways that result in unequal opportunity. It's not as easy for some members of our communities to flourish as it is for others, and this is a matter of justice.
Both also have some glaring blind spots. I’m appalled at the blatant disregard for unborn life among Democrats. I'm equally offended by the language that Republicans are using to demonize immigrants. It flies directly in the face of nearly 100 passages in the Old Testament about valuing the stranger and treating them with dignity, respect, and compassion. In fact we are commanded to love them as we love our own families (Leviticus 19:34). Neither party is a good fit for me.
So where does that leave me?
It leaves me longing for heaven and praying that it will come quickly. It leaves me hungering for the Reign of King Jesus. It leaves me with awareness that our world is broken, our leaders are broken, and we are broken in ways that only Jesus can restore. And he has promised that he will. Jesus is currently laying the groundwork for a brand new Earth, a brand new Heaven, and even brand new bodies no longer bearing the scars of sin. Think of it; everything will work correctly.
It leave me with a reminder that my job is to love God with my heart, mind, and soul trusting Jesus to take care of the rest. Everything else is falling into place just as God planned.
At Central Christian Church we are committed to addressing issues of justice and standing with those in need. Jesus didn't put us in Springfield so that we could worship comfortably in a beautiful sanctuary. He put us in springfield so that give our most vulnerable neighbors a taste of heaven and a relationship with Jesus. Join us for worship at 10:30 Sunday Mornings. Join us in community service the rest of the week.
"This blog is my way of connecting with people at Central and beyond to encourage them to make their space in the world more like Heaven."
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog reflect my thoughts and opinions as an individual, not the formal positions of our church. Central includes people with a wide range of opinions on important issues like those addressed in my posts. It is also a place where we can discuss these issues with civility and grace.