Speak in faith, but be aware
Earlier this month I had a long discussion with a retired pastor concerning the role and responsibility of people of faith in the political realm. It's a subject I have long wrestled with, given the nature of writing political commentary, and it is particularly appropriate to meditate on the spiritual versus earthly nature of our human existence during this holiest season of the Christian year, Easter.
Today is the day Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches that God sent his only Son into the world, the promised Messiah, to fulfill the promise of Isaiah 53 to redeem mankind from the penalty of sin.
While Christians look to Jesus' life as an example for their behavior, and revere his teachings as words to live by, the distinctive core belief that makes Christianity different from all other religions is the crucifixion of this sinless Son of God. Christians believe that Jesus' death paid for everything we've ever done wrong, if we will receive the free gift of salvation by God's grace, through faith.
The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, alive, signals God's acceptance of the sacrifice and Jesus' victory over death, providing eternal life for those who confess their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
If you learned of a complete and permanent cure for cancer, wouldn't you call all whom you know with cancer to tell them about it and how to obtain it, especially if it were free? And if you discovered a secure and guaranteed investment that insured an abundant and endless source of income, wouldn't you tell everyone you knew who struggled with finances?
In Jesus, Christians carry the best news the world could ever learn, and we are called to share that good news with everyone, everywhere.
Christians are also called to be salt and light to our generation and our sphere of influence. Salt adds flavor, but it also preserves from decay and degradation. Popular culture is the equivalent of junk food. It tastes good, feels good, it's what everyone else is doing, but there is nothing life-giving about it, and it contains no nutritional value.
If junk food is all that is consumed, it can kill us. Christians interact with the culture by bringing to it the Bread of Life and the living water of Jesus, sharing life-giving truth and offering a future hope, injecting those values and ideals that matter on an eternal level.
I wrestle with how God would have me use my time. Am I more "Christian" if I live cloistered, just reading my Bible and praying? Am I less "Christian" when interacting with neighbors, engaging with society, cleaning the house, or writing this column?
Being a Christian is not like being a gardener, a woodworker or a knitter; it's not something we do in our spare time, one of many hobbies. It's not a club with weekly social meetings to attend. God doesn't call us to dabble in religion! God calls us to fully-surrendered commitment that defines who we are and informs our decisions, actions, attitudes and words, the same way Jesus called his original disciples Peter and Andrew, James and John to leave everything behind and follow him.
When we walk out the door to our house, we don't leave the "religious" us behind, turning into a secular version of ourselves. At least we shouldn't! If we loudly proclaim our Christian faith and people know that we are followers of Jesus Christ, our walk had better match our talk, whether we are in the workplace, the marketplace or engaging at any level of the political arena. We do not have the luxury to indulge in our own personal animus. When people see our behavior, hear or read our words, they will compare us to what they know about Jesus and his teachings.
Anger, malice, mocking, vitriol, stereotyping, name-calling and harsh judgment have no place in the life of a committed Christian, much less in any public or political sphere, and the day that we realize that politics consumes us more than our faith does is the day we need to walk away from politics.
Gandhi is quoted as saying, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Make no mistake, Christians and Christian principles belong in every area of society including politics. Our voices need to be heard, and we should stand immovable on the living principles of the Word of God, but let's be very sure we always represent Jesus Christ in ways that honor him.
Carol Petersen is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She is also a correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers Inc. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.