‘Why would we as followers of an eternal king allow ourselves to be divided by temporary political systems, leaders or platforms?’What Christians Should Do If Their Candidate Loses the 2020 Election by Andy Stanley
Some may read this Time Magazine article post (which I call a nice attempt to help us sing in unison, ‘Kumbaya’) and click the like and share buttons in agreement. Jesus said to love others and that is exactly what this article asks of us, right?
On the surface, this article seems like textbook Christianity that espouses a (really the) foundational tenet of being Christ-like, loving one another. However, there is more to this story in America and that underlying nuance made me nervous and cringe. Why? Many of us do not need reasons to disengage from the plight of our brothers and sisters — daily living and dealing with our own stuff does that automatically. But this article subtly, and likely unknowingly to Stanley (perhaps he’s unconscious of how this prevailing narrative is ‘spiritual bypassing’), gives an easy out that we have unfortunately seen repeated at the most crucial, civil rights-led moments in the U.S (c.f. The Alabama clergy letter and Dr. King’s renowned response from a Birmingham jail cell).
More specifically, silence and inaction regarding the causes of the underprivileged from Christians all in the name of ‘unity’ that has become code for ‘not rocking the boat’ or complicity.
What Would Jesus Really Do?
Jesus himself (not one of the apostles nor one of the Old Testament judges, kings, or prophets) insisted that inequality and inaction demand the severest form of punishment:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’Matthew 25:41-45 NIV
Notice that smack in the middle of this first-century Ted-like Talk, Jesus includes, ‘I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,’ as one of the criteria for dishonoring His very Personhood (particularly since we are Image-Bearers) and being penalized. In today-speak that would include, ‘I was a stranger (or outsider) and:
- You did not invite me into the suburban cul-de-sac.’
- You did not invite me to the Board of Director’s table.’
- You did not invite me to the startup funding round.’
- You did not invite me into the little league.’
Jesus in the flesh — not the watered-down preschool lesson version — said, in summary, if we are not inviting others to play our ‘reindeer games’ (it was not just poor Rudolph), He does not acknowledge the rest of our contributions to the Kingdom (c.f. verse 41’s eternal fire). Whew!
Quiet as it is kept, Jesus was and is the original CDIO (Chief Diversity + Inclusion Officer).
It’s Both Not Either/Or
Furthermore, God calls us to love AND seek justice, which turns complicity masked as unity on its head. It is not about choosing love INSTEAD of seeking justice because that would actually be a contradiction to the very nature of love (1 Cor. 13:5 NIV ‘It does not dishonor others…’). Stanley’s article, even if unintentionally, follows the talking points that we have seen throughout American Christendom that overlooks and is silent on justice as both a component and necessary application of love. We stop short when we do not both love and seek justice instead of kowtowing to a stifling call to silence, I mean ‘unity’.
In addition to the Scriptures mentioned above, here are a few more for those that want to see the full counsel of God (calling all OT lovers), Who’s essence is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.Hosea 12:6 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:8 NIV
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.Isaiah 1:17 NIV
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.Proverbs 29:7 NIV
So when it is asked,
‘Why would we as followers of an eternal king allow ourselves to be divided by temporary political systems, leaders or platforms?’—What Christians Should Do If Their Candidate Loses the 2020 Election by Andy Stanley
It is because these albeit temporary political systems, leaders, and platforms do not invite us all in (particularly the least of us, which historically means Black in the U.S.). Lack of inclusion creates a permanent chasm between Christ and us. To better understand this point, imagine if you have three children and two of them kept excluding the third. Honestly, how would your relationship with the two be impacted? Now, take those feelings and magnify them knowing that God so loved the world.
Furthermore, it is no secret that Biblical history repeatedly shows that the temporary does indeed matter to and impact the permanent and eternal (looking at you Esau, among others). Thus, the temporary is not to be minimized or dismissed. As for me and my house, being truly Christ-like — an advocate like our Advocate (1 John 2:1) — is more important than pseudo-unity that silently smells more like conformity and complicity than genuine Christianity.
As an attendee of Stanley’s church (where I am participating in a ‘Be the Bridge Racial Reconciliation Women’s Small Group’ that purposefully allows us to tackle these various discussions in racially mixed company), I doubt Stanley consciously realized how his article undermines and demobilizes needed conversations for the sake of not being ‘divided’. Yet, that unconscious nature is precisely why we have to call out what has become insidious.
It seems we overlook that Jesus’s prayer of unity (John 17) was that we be one — which includes oneness in belief systems as purported by Jesus instead of the traditions of men. Jesus did not tell us (or live out Himself) to just overlook viewpoints that explicitly conflict with the B-I-B-L-E to simply sing, ‘Kumbaya’.
Instead, He turned over tables (Matthew 21:12-13).
By God, if we cannot speak up and stand for what so violently ails Christ, then are we anything more than secret-Christians, which are no Christians at all? Case-in-point, see how lukewarm Christians — those who are neutral — are viewed contemptuously by Jesus in Rev. 3:15-16.
In this post-election season, will you continue (or start) to have the hard conversations that reflect both love AND justice?
I know I will and I hope you will too.