Libertarian

On Faith: Do we have to choose sides?

Now it’s do you wear a mask or not? And then you have those who want to open commerce up and those who think it’s too soon.

In each of these scenarios we are given only two choices: either you are on my side or on the other side. If you have noticed, there are people on both sides of these issues who have a self-righteous attitude, claiming their perspective is absolutely right and if you don’t agree with them or see their point of view, you’re an idiot.

But do we really have to choose sides? Or better yet, are there only two choices here? I believe there are always more than two choices, ways for people to exist together without having to agree on everything.

Within my small congregation, we run the gambit of political perspectives. We have what many would consider far right as well as far left groups, along with a substantial group of independents and libertarians. Nevertheless, we are able to gather together to worship, serve our community through events and enjoy fellowship with one another.

So then, the question becomes how did that come about? I will be the first to say there are no quick or easy answers. But I do think there are some things scripture offers us that can be helpful.

We need to remember that Jesus brought people together from different political views. In particular, he had Judas who was a zealot, someone who wanted to overthrow the oppressive government through force. And then there was Matthew, the tax collector, who worked in collaboration with the Roman government. Jesus gave them something to focus on that was more important than their political views, and that was himself. Their faith in him became the unifying force that trumped every other motivation in their lives.

With that mind, here are three things Jesus taught that are helpful for us to walk in unity with one another.

First, we need to learn to walk in humility. A humility that is partially based on perspective found in 1 Cor 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.” In other words, when it comes to really understanding what’s going on around us, we need to confess we don’t see things clearly. No one sees the whole picture.

The second thing is to encourage people to apply the incarnation principle to their lives. Incarnation is a word used to describe the process of God becoming fully human. He did this so he could experience life from our perspective. With this in mind, I have encouraged my conservative friends to put themselves in the shoes of their liberal friends by asking them why they believe the way they believe and to do the work of trying to see life through their perspective. And vice versa.

Only then, after the other person really feels like they have been heard by you, can you go to God and process what you have learned. Then reach your conclusion, and vote your conscience fully realizing that there are other perspectives out there.

Third, the apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 5:16 “we regard no one according to the flesh.” What does this mean? For one thing, we as people tend to label others who think differently than we do, and from that point on, we see them only through the labels we’ve given them.

The apostle Paul is advocating that we look at each other in the way God looks at us. Regardless of our political beliefs, God sees us as someone he created in his image, therefore, we need to be respected and honored as such. Furthermore, when God looks at us, he sees someone so valuable and loved, that he was willing to send his one and only son to die for us.

If I only see people through labels, it is far easier for me to hate or disdain them. But when I look at that same person as someone created in the image of God and someone God loves, it’s harder for me to hate them because of what they think.

So, next time you are being asked to choose one of two sides, please remember there is always another choice. It’s not necessarily an easy choice, but one that allows us to live in complete harmony with one another despite our political views.

“On Faith” is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.

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