Our Faithless Culture Wars
A while ago, I finally realized that I needed to take Jesus’ teachings much more literally. He said, “don’t judge” and I said, “I’m not judging, but clearly some things are wrong. It’s not judging to say that.” He said, “love, pray for and serve your enemies” and I heard, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” He said, “do not resist the evil man” and I signed petitions against groups and politicians in order to protect Jesus’ values. Jesus said, “so do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'” and I wonder if we should make plans to attend the financial planning series the church is holding on Thursday nights. Jesus said, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” and I work really hard to be at least in the top quintile in everything I do. See the problem here?
So, haltingly and stumblingly and often failingly, I have tried to unlearn the ways we do things here in the world and adopt the Kingdom way of doing things. What I have learned in the process is that what we see as “standing up for Jesus” or “hate the sin, love the sinner” is really a form of faithlessness. We don’t trust God enough to be able to work things out according to the ways that Jesus told us to do them. We fight and opine and advocate because we are convinced that without our help, God won’t get his way. We think that all that talk about not judging and not resisting and not worrying are good – so far as they go. But there are important issues at play here. If we don’t stand up and fight, we could lose! We could be eating cat food in retirement. “God doesn’t get what it’s like down here” is what I’ve sometimes told myself. Only that’s ridiculous – God made “down here.” He came down here and suffered the worst we could throw at him. And God wins. Always, everywhere. Period. Amen. The reality is that every time I judge or fight or worry or try to keep my position, I’m throwing my lot in with the losing side. Really. Think about that and then think about our culture wars and you can start to see why “the church” has failed so miserably in fighting them. And even more alarmingly, how breathtakingly faithless we are.
What I’ve learned is that not judging means allowing God to work through another person’s sin without my input. Jesus said that the first shall be last and that this was for the good. But when our place as first is threatened, we say, “we need to stand up and stop our rights from being taken.” This isn’t the Jesus way. He gave up all his rights and tells us to be willing to do the same and trust that God will work through that. When I can allow another person to be in error without correcting or arguing with them it’s because I trust that my job is simply to point people to God and leave the rest to him. When I started this blog years ago, I’m sure I had a reason for choosing the name “The Upside Down World”, but I no longer remember what that reason was. Today, I couldn’t possibly have come up with a better name because it’s a perfect description of the Kingdom of God – The Upside Down World. In God’s economy, the first is last and the last is first. In God’s economy, the weak are powerful and the powerful are weak. Fights are won by refusing to resist. Futures are secured by giving up today. Lives must be lost in order to be won.I was going to start this post by saying, “I’m not a culture warrior.” But I erased that as soon as it was written. The truth is that I am a culture warrior. Or at least I aspire to be one. Only it’s not political or cultural or even moral battles that I want to battle over. I want to battle for an upside down world. I want to continue battling to unlearn the deep programming that says we must stand up, fight, be heard, mark of right from wrong. It’s a strange and uncomfortable battle to wage. But the truth is that God does not need us to defend him. Jesus hasn’t asked us to go to battle for him. We’ve been told to pick up our own cross and walk our own narrow path. That’s the kind of culture warrior I’m trying to be. Anyone want to join me?
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