In order to make sense of this contentious moment in history, it’s important to remember that the social contract is the only religion that some people have, other than gratifying themselves. So, when we Christians place our obedience to God above public consensus, those people are offended.
Additionally, there are Christians who have ordered their lives upon the idea that they are to be the least offensive as they possibly can towards the sensibilities of those who worship themselves and the social contract. Therefore, those Christians order their lives around a “common good” narrative that they believe will be the most inviting way for them to share the love of Christ to those that would generally be offended by Christianity. The complexity of this matter is that the “common good” narrative, in all practicality, then becomes the gospel that is held to by those Christians and that is believed by those unbelievers that happen to be watching and listening.
Although my attention, in this case, is on the socially liberal person that desires to frame an ethic that aligns with their own views of sexuality and identity, the same dynamic is also found in those that worship the nation for the sake of the nation. There are certainly Christians that align so closely with the political and social agenda of the United States that they would gladly silence any other Christian voices that might detract from their patriotic propaganda. Both of these narratives are unhealthy and potentially violent in nature.
The Common Good is not the gospel. Patriotism is not the Gospel. Christians must recognize that we are living in a time of polarized initiatives and identity politics. Yes, there are aspects of certain political initiatives that align very closely, if not seamlessly, with aspects of our biblical faith, but that does not mean that we can find our identity in the Progressive Left or the Patriotic Right. As Christians, we find our identity in Christ, and if questions of political policy are not clearly answered in the Bible, we must be cautious to not create wars within our ranks that tie us more to a political party or social agenda than to the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Whether we wear a face mask or no face mask, take a vaccine or no vaccine, embrace for a hug or give an air hug from six feet away, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and should act as such.
As we are reminded this Memorial Day weekend, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for this friends” (John 15:13). Before the soldier ever died on the battlefield, he had to choose to sign up and take the contract, he had to follow orders and overcome the fear of combat, he had to deny selfish ambition and cooperate with the unit for the sake of the mission. Before these men and women could die for their friend, it was necessary that they take little steps of self-sacrifice in the direction of that pending physical death. The Christian life is akin to the life of the soldier. We must die many little deaths every day in order to participate in the “greater love” of our Savior. It is difficult to consider your brother or sister as being better than yourself or worthy of your sacrifice when you think their actions are foolish, and yet humility tells us to do just that: “Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought” (Rom. 12:3), but rather “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (NASB, Phil. 2:3). As all of us wrestle with an odd time in history, which challenges our daily patterns and views on appropriate habits, many of us are having strong convictions well-up within us and we are seeing “fools” everywhere. It doesn’t help that we are in an election season as well. I want to challenge you to engage your brother and sister in Christ as if they are more important than you, despite disagreements, and to answer their convictional statements with the knowledge that you both serve the same Savior, Christ Jesus. As it is with drinking, eating, and worshiping, “each person should be convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) about what we believe the Bible and the Spirit our convicting us to do.
There are “Nazis” on both sides of the political spectrum. There are extremists that would silence the voices of the opposing camp as a form of worship to the “common good” and to the “nation.” My Christian brothers and sisters, please recognize that at some point your patriotism or commitment to the common good will need to be abandoned in order to worship your God by caring for your fellow Christian or neighbor in a way that transcends your social sympathies and initiatives. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (NASB, Ephesians 5:15-16).