I READ THE NEWS morning, noon, and night.
I hold my breath each time I open up a news app on my phone.
I’m afraid of what I’m going to read.
I keep hoping for someone to take a stand for integrity, human decency, and justice. I’m almost always disappointed.
Much of everything feels on edge, teetering and tottering at a tipping point.
Some Christians say we need strong leaders willing to shake things up with coarse words, fearsome behavior, and common-sense gut reactions. And they say they’re happy with the direction we’re headed.
Others would suggest looking up the word “sociopath” on the Mayo Clinic website and reading the article it produces: “Antisocial personality disorder.” And they’d say we’re headed to hell in a golf cart.
It’s tough to know what to do as a Christian.
This is serious, potentially end-of-the-world business and Christians need to talk about their differences. But for the most part, they can’t hear each other. And even if they could, “compromise” might as well be the f word.
Christians at odds AD
Christians were this divided in New Testament times. In Paul’s day, some Christians said all believers needed to become Jews first. The believers would become known as Christian Jews, just as some were Pharisee Jews, Sadducee Jews, and Essene Jews.
Paul said the heck with that. He said this to Jewish Christians who wanted to force non-Jews into the Jewish religion and into obeying all the laws including circumcision:
“I wish those circumcision lovers messing with you would just go ahead and cut their whole thing off” (Galatians 5:12).
That sounds like an argument in favor of coarse talk from the big mouth of a strongman. I think of it as Paul before the invention of coffee.
Christians tried to resolve the conflict with a church council meeting—the first on record. It took place in Jerusalem. Church leader James sided with Paul and Peter, agreeing to let Gentiles be Gentiles, but be Christians as well (Acts 6).
The meeting didn’t solve anything, other than giving Paul a license to preach. Tradition-minded Jewish Christians harassed progressive-minded Paul throughout his ministry, regardless of what James had ordered.
In that case, the progressives eventually won. Christianity never became a branch of the Jewish movement. That tradition-minded movement died out, with many of the Jewish Christians returning to their Jewish roots and synagogues.
What’s the fix for Christians?
I wonder what that means to Christians divided today. Should we call a council meeting to work up a compromise? Pardon my French.
I’d say it couldn’t hurt, but I imagine it could.
Get that many Christian leaders in one room talking about a topic like this and it’s unlikely someone’s going to bust out singing “Hallelujah.” But they’d bust something.
Here’s the good news.
There’s a hero out there. A savior of sorts. Maybe someone inspired by the Savior himself.
If we don’t blow ourselves up first, or pollute ourselves to death, or scorch the land useless, someone is going to say there’s insanity afoot. And enough people will listen to make a difference.
I believe this because:
- Kindness is stronger than meanness.
- Love is more enduring than hatred.
- Compassion puts greed to shame.
Until the hero comes, perhaps a wise judge like Deborah or a gentle king like Hezekiah—no, not a king—perhaps nervous souls could consider the possibility that God made the tongue for nothing better than to speak the truth in love.
And it probably doesn’t hurt to vote in every doggone caucus, primary, and election we get a chance.