This writer posted a piece entitled “The Easy Way Out” in An Old Cops Place. It took liberals and conservatives to task for the fact they are not willing to do the hard work. At the extremes’ both liberals and conservatives want to use political might and the law to change people and society. It seems neither side understands that real change cannot be legislated.
Real change takes time and dedication. Real change comes through winning the hearts and minds of people, not threatening them with penalties if they do not behave as the ruling group thinks they should. Real change is hard work, and takes time. Most people are not willing to work that hard, nor do they have the patience to wait for change. However, this piece is not about the left or the right.
This piece is about those who call themselves Christian. One would hope that people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, regardless of their politics, would be willing to work hard. One would hope that those who profess to being saved would have the patience to work toward real change. One would hope that those who declare they are born again would understand one cannot force another toward righteousness. It seems that is not the case.
Christians heavily influence the political right today. In fact, some might argue the political right is controlled by people who claim to be Christian. Those same people might argue that the political divisiveness today is due to the impact of groups claiming to be Christian. Their efforts to take over the Republican Party and political conservatism are well-intentioned. Unfortunately, their efforts seem to have galvanized the left and frightened the middle.
It is almost certain much of the hostility from the left today is due to fear of what they envision as the right’s goals. For them, the religious right is composed of modern day pharisees, working to establish a legalistic society based on Old Testament principles. Even many Christians wonder about the goals of those on the far right.
History will decide whether Christian politics of the kind seen today is the right way to move the country forward. This writer worries it is not, and fears Christians are making the same mistake as the far left. They are taking the easy way out and are not willing to do the hard work.
Christ taught the disciples to be fishers of men. A Christian’s charge is to follow in Christ’s path and the path of the disciples. Christians are to spread the Gospel, and bring others to Christ. There are different ways of doing this, but the best way is face to face. Unfortunately, that is hard and time-consuming work. Also, it requires the Christian to live a life that reflects the Christian’s professed faith. It is hard to sell someone on Christianity when the one doing the selling does not practice what he or she preaches.
The religious right seems to have given up on evangelism and discipleship. Evangelism and discipleship as tools for change are apparently too slow or too hard for most people. Instead, some think Christians should be spreading the gospel through politics. It is unclear how people can spread the Gospel through politics, but it seems the religious right thinks it means passing laws trying to force people into righteous behavior.
As far as this writer can tell, Christ never preached that the way to save a soul or save the world was through legal action or politics. In fact, it seems clear by His actions and words that he respected the legal government and had little respect for those who played politics. Not only did Christ respect the government, he did not interfere with it. He understood that governments are allowed to rise and fall by God’s will. If God wants a government destroyed, it will be destroyed. If He does not, there is a reason for its existence.
To this writer it seems the religious right movement is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel. The Gospel is about personal responsibility and faith. It is not about living within a strict code of conduct set out in the Old Testament or laws passed by political entities. The Gospel is about Christ’s sacrifice on mankind’s behalf. The Gospel is about a personal relationship with Christ that leads believers closer to God and closer to righteousness. The Gospel is about one’s faith bringing about confession, repentance and a spirit that can stand up to temptation and sin. The Gospel is not about forcing people to live a certain way.
Christ did not force anyone to live a certain way. He showed others how they should live, and told them what they needed to do to live the way He did. Christ did not force anyone to stop sinning. He gave them the opportunity to confess and repent. Christ shared the Gospel with others and saved them from themselves, one heart, one mind at a time. Christ did the hard work. Can we do any less?
© S. E Jackson