We live in an era of fast-moving information via all manner of media. The 24 hour news cycle seems to have an insatiable appetite. It seems like every other day there is a new crisis. The speed at which these things confront us can be overwhelming. I now have someone who briefs me every Sunday morning on what current events have happened overnight in case I need to address it. (True confession, I don’t look at any social media as I am preparing for that Sunday’s worship and teaching.) Yet, I believe many of today’s issues have a need for a Christian perspective. Part of the problem is the recognition that a statement on guns, or race, or immigration, or sexual assault can divide more than it can unite. Part of the problem is that we have people in our church who sit on either side of many of today’s controversies. Most of the issues carry real emotional and value-laden weight. And as I have said many times publicly, we need to be aware that much of today’s news is about ratings and being manipulated then outraged over whatever position is being presented.
So, is there a way for a sincere Christian who does not want to be manipulated to find a position that has a sense of the Kingdom of God? Yes, I believe there is a way.
When a tragedy strikes, such as the recent shooting in Florida, we can know that the news-narrative is going to be over gun rights v. gun control.
Both have valid points to make. What is the issue? It is violence. As Christians, we must stand against violence. In this instance, it is violence by guns. The debate will be shaped by gun rights v. gun control, but the issue that we can speak up about is violence. Violence in schools cannot be allowed as collateral damage for the bearing of any kind of arms.
Take race. The racial debate will be framed by rights v. privilege. What is the issue? It is racism. As Christians, we must learn what racism is, what it looks like, recognizing it in ourselves and in society and speaking against any form of it. What we can speak up about is racism and acting in ways to bridge the divide.
Take the #Me too movement. This is the outing of men in power who have sexually assaulted women. The debate in this one has been framed by sexual assault v. he is a good man. What is the issue? It is assault. As Christians, we can speak against any form of assault – sexual, emotional, physical, or psychological. What we can speak about is the right of a woman to not have to put up with being put down, abused, or assaulted.
Take gender identity. Much of it has been politicized. The debate has been framed by rights v. identity. What is the issue? It is sexual brokenness in all human beings not just those who identify as LGBTQ. The heterosexual is no less broken in his or her sexuality than one who is not heterosexual. What we can speak about is the healing and acceptance that Jesus gives to all of us when we turn to him.
The issue in any of today’s controversies is sin. Mankind in sin. We can ask ourselves, “What is the sin?” When it is identified, it gives us a means to know how we can speak about it. Jesus did not just call out sin. He stood in the midst of it and gave people a hope, a way out of their sin.
I am fully aware that these statements open up much more conversation. And having conversation, while at times painful, is better than no conversation at all. What I am endeavoring to do in these few words is give us a means to frame up an issue so that we may shape that issue from a perspective of the Kingdom of God wherein righteousness dwells.
Christians live in the kingdoms of this world, but we are citizens of the kingdom of our God. We have a different citizenship, a different perspective than the debate of this world. We are neither fearful nor despairing. We are neither indifferent nor complicit.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim.1:7
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” Rev. 11:15