I am a former, and I gladly say former, resident of Washington DC, and also a sometime follower of politics. I used to love the idea of politics, it excited me to see how our country was actually run. I had certain issues that I was keenly interested in, and others that took secondary importance. During the last Presidential Election I was in the minority in the way that I was going to vote, especially in my social-religious group.
Lately I have become very disillusioned with the state of politics, and especially political debate if we can even call it that. I was having a conversation this morning with a colleague here at the church and we talked a little bit about church politics, more specifically the United Methodist Church’s politics. We talked a specific issue that will not be discussed now, but possibly at a later time. The theme of generational differences came up on this particular issue, and something interesting was said. The claim was that the younger generations are not so concerned by differences, but are more concerned with doing ministry, with serving those whom we are called to serve.
Now on any issue there will always be at least two sides, often there are many, many more sides that never see the light of day thanks to our obsession with dualism. We like things black and white, we do not do well with uncertainty, although we give lip service to it, we do NOT like surprises. We like our lives to fit neatly into little boxes, and to be easily planned and contained. Don’t get me wrong, planning is important and we don’t do anything to the fullest unless we’ve planned, but we do not want to have no idea what’s going on. Trust me, I am as guilty as the next guy on this front.
If we use our political system as an example of this we see that you have Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. The chief job of these groups is to scream louder than the other, so they win supporters or political points. It is very rare that you see pragmatism and an actual working together happen in our political system. Very rarely do we actually see successful attempts or actual success at “reaching across the aisle,” this is disturbing to me. It was once again proved a while back when legislation was put together in a bi-partisan manner in Washington, until the vote when party lines decided the outcome of the legislation.
So what is the middle way, especially for a church that is supposed to be separate from the political apparatus of our nation, city, or state? I think we may need to actually enforce a separation of our church and our state. Instead of dividing the body of Christ into constituent red and blue pieces shouldn’t we worry a lot more about the purpose of our faith? I encourage us to stop thinking about politics in our church, as Jack said in LOST “Live together, die alone.” There is no more apt phrase for this debate. We will never all agree, I promise that the first century church did not all agree on every point, but they saw that the point was not for us to be divided against one another, but to unite for the mission and integrity of the faith that we claim.
So if you are politically motivated, informed, or just interested let us try to think this week about how we can remove the fetters of our society and the things that are encouraged by others and get down to ministry. We will not all agree on doctrine or theology, but we can all agree that there are people in are world that are hurting and have been hurt by Christian’s. Let us try to work to heal not only the wounds caused by our disagreements, but the pain and injustice we see from day to day around us.