Faith and Politics, Pt. IV
|One of the words, or concepts I struggle with is integration. What seems so simple for others, for me can be a real chore.|
As a Christian, I try my best to follow what Jesus taught in the Gospels. It seems like such a simple concept, one which Charles Sheldon put forth in his early 20th Century book, "In His Steps,"
When we are faced with a decision to make, we just look to Jesus, as expressed in His life and words, to guide us. The problems come when we can't reconcile what the Bible actually says, to our current life. This leaves us, or at least me, with some problems integrating life and faith.
Let me give you a few easy to understand examples.
Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Seems like pretty straight forward stuff. But when we try to apply it to real life situations, like say Iran, or that neighbor who drives us bonkers, people say we are crazy.
We are told it is idiotic to think that we could love the Iranians, or their regime, and pray for them. People tell us the only way to affect change in Iran is through military action.
Now this may true. But how do we integrate that real world stuff into a faith that clearly teaches another path?
Here's another to look at. In his Epistle to the Philippians, Paul teaches us in Chapter 2 that we are to "consider others better than ourselves."
Nowhere does Paul say that this only applies to fellow believers. In fact he goes even further, calling us to treat people with so much humility that we do as Jesus did, laying our life down for them.
So in the real world for me, this gets sticky in how I think about and deal with others. Many times the thoughts I have towards others are anything but charitable. Particularly when it comes to politics.
It is easy for me to see people mocking President Obama and see where they fall short in this area. But if I am going to be honest, I must also own up to being one who did not try and see the best in President Bush, or even the person in front of me at the market today who couldn't work the simple self checkout scanner.
But perhaps the most difficult thing for me to grasp is this.
When someone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, it is understood that all that we have in life, is turned over to Him. Our hopes, dreams, hearts, and all of our stuff become His. We give everything up as a way of emptying ourselves so we can take up the cross.
In effect, all that we have is His, and we are just stewards of what He has given us.
So then, how do we live, thrive, and support a system such as capitalism, that stands in direct opposition to the values expressed in the New Testament?
If we believe that we really do give everything up when we become Christians, and that all that we have is His, how do we integrate our belief into a system that has as one of its very virtues, private property? Or rather, property that does not belong to God?
Fitting my faith in Jesus, and how I believe He wants me to live, into a 21st Century American life is not an easy task.
I have no answers for questions like these for they are way to difficult for me to understand.
Perhaps that was what Paul spoke of when he told us "to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling."