To be honest this may only be the biggest mistake that I am willing to write about with the knowledge that internet postings have the shelf life of plutonium. Years ago I wrote a book with the provocative title of "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People". In that book I was incredibly candid about the damage that Christians often do in the name of Jesus. I expected to get roasted for my candor about my faith. For the most part that didn't happen. Perhaps those who most needed to read it didn't recognize their need to read it. A couple of fans of one heretical televangelist decided I was on the express train to hell. Who knew they could read?
I took the most heat for a chapter where I cleverly (I thought) tried to use a political situation to make a spiritual point. Bad idea. I mean a bad idea along the lines of tank tops for middle-aged men and Spandex for almost everyone.
I learned my lesson.
I regret the political references I made in that book. I found out that political remarks polarize and deflect the message of the Cross. I tried to make it clear that Christians were making a mistake by trying to change our culture through politics instead of by changing hearts for Jesus. But my entire message was ignored by some because of a few paragraphs. I regret the impression that I gave to some readers that I believed the Republican party was the official party of Christianity. I do not believe that at all. And yes…I expect to see Democrats in heaven. And Libertarians. A few Republicans will be there too. But the common link will not be political ideology. The link that will bring us there will be Jesus.
Jesus chose to work by starting his own grassroots movement of faith and discipleship. He could have chosen to work in the lives of leaders and politicians. He could have chosen to concentrate only on people of power and influence. That is what I would have done. Jesus could have encountered Caesar on a Roman road instead of Paul on the Damascus road. But He did not. He chose to work through common men and women. He taught a radical message of grace and humility and service. He valued women, children, the poor, blind, crippled and ethnic outcasts in a way that was revolutionary and threatening to the status quo. Jesus was an off the charts revolutionary. You generally don't get crucified for being annoying. He served instead of demanding to be served. He loved the unlovable and forgave the unforgivable. He taught that to a group of men and women in the first century who, with NO political power at all, turned the world upside down.
And that is where we as His followers have fallen short. We have fallen short by making righteousness about behaving the way we think you should behave instead of by modeling the One who makes righteousness possible. If the body of Christ had demonstrated His grace in a lifestyle wrapped around discipleship and serving then I suspect we would not have to be so dependent on fighting Washington to change the culture. It would be happening in the hearts of men and women and that would be the ultimate trickle-down effect.
I am not smart enough to decide what God has called people to do. If He has placed a desire for people to impact the culture through political action I am not about to question their motives. But my hope is in Christ and my trust is in a God who is in control even when I cannot see it.
So this writer will try to steer clear of politics in my humble ramblings about faith. God's Word taught with truth and love will mold followers of Jesus that will view social issues wisely. Moralizing on sexual issues has produced guilt but not real results. Jesus forgave the woman caught in sin and THEN said go and sin no more. My goal is to tell people about the grace and love of Jesus, disciple them into a real relationship with Him, and then watch as the Holy Spirit changes what my sermonizing cannot. Their hearts.
The body of Christ is about Jesus. About being a good citizen that respects authority. And about demonstrating His amazing grace to a desperately needy world. The message should be grace, redemption and the forgiveness available to everyone. All political parties are welcome at the foot of the cross. We need to spend more time there…for the good of America. Jesus left us with these words that would be good to remember when you get discouraged by the cacophony of twenty-four hour news.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16, NLT)
I pray that you will believe and trust that truth.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television
sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded
by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.