Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Christian Response to Alarming Issues

We Christians, especially in the US, don’t do well with alarming issues (and in an election year, alarms are going off everywhere). Whether the issue is same-sex marriage, immigration (illegal or otherwise), or any other lightning-rod topic, we tend to react emotionally and then side with our preferred political camp which we think will solve all the problems if just given enough power.

As the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wondered about the people who worshipped idols of their own making:

“No one stops to think.” (Isaiah 44:19)

We do need to stop and think. And it is Jesus who can help us with this.

In Matthew 5, part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus holds up a mirror so that people can see themselves with new clarity:

“You have heard that is was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’. . . But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister . . .” (5:21-22)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (5:27-28)

The mirror is held up and we see ourselves standing alongside the murderers, sharing with them the same heart of anger.

The mirror is held up and we find that we are in league with the adulterers, our single heart of lust beating as one.

Should our conversations and debates about current issues start in any other way? Do we solve our problems when we only know how to divide the human race into us and them?

When it is said that gays and lesbians live outside of God’s intentions for human sexuality, perhaps we can begin the discussion by first holding up a mirror and seeing ourselves in our own broken relationships and distorted sexual expressions and fantasies.

When illegal immigrants are described in terms that make them sound less than human, we can enter the conversation by holding up a mirror and seeing ourselves as co-humans, made in the image of God, trying to find our way in a tragic world.

In this way, we see that there is only us.

Certainly there are legitimate issues to be resolved, and I am not advocating that we all roll over and play dead for every new cultural demand that comes our way. But I am advocating that we begin these things in the way of Jesus. And his way always exposes our own hearts.

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