These were the words I heard in my spirit a couple weeks ago, as I struggled with why I would give more of my time and risk more of my resources, to pursue a political position in this now divided country. The desire to serve is still strong in my 63 year old bones, but the awareness of the cost to my family and even my health, is ever more evident than when I first started this journey to serve cities (Heb 11:16) some 30 years ago.
Cross talk is less popular these days, at least outside of evangelical churches. Jesus has gotten a bum rap from His followers, many seduced by the “blessings” of capitalism. I too am a capitalist, an entrepreneur; I even believe that God has used my creativity (or should I say His gifts in me) and at times my courage to provide for my family’s needs. The practice of capitalism has kept my pastoral ministry less church dependent, while somewhat covertly engaged in the marketplace. Walking this sharp edge in life has certainly been no easy road.
Do people really know why I do what I do? In fact, do people really want a person in political leadership who thinks like a pastor, works like an entrepreneur and loves like a Christ follower? We shall see.
I am finding myself in awkward moments these days, when being conservative means so many different things to so many different people groups, some bitter with rage. I am at least fiscally conservative, for we live debt free; not in some Dave Ramsey groupie way, it’s just how my wife and I think. Do we not understand the leveraging power of debt in moments of calculated risk for investment sake? Yes, though we have taken far too few risks, but unlike our country, we have never practiced debt beyond our means.
Do I believe in the Constitution and all its well-crafted Jeffersonian-like amendments, absolutely! I even love quotes from men like Jefferson: “The God who gave us life,” he wrote, “gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.” These early founders were certainly phenomenal men, most of great character but not without error, as their practice of slavery continues its haunts to this day!
Do I fear the loss of our freedoms in the near future? We are a nation at risk for sure, but “perfect love cast out fear.”
The real question here is not whether I am conservative; believe in the Constitution or even some common Christian creed. Rather, am I willing to practice my faith in the public arena, and is my life sufficiently evidenced as different because of my faith? Am I simultaneously bringing practical solutions to a suffering world, beyond that of any other John Q Public, Jill Christian, or Jack whatever?
Embrace the cross, stretch out your arms to others; yes, to those who are different in their lifestyles and even to those who think they are of the same faith as you, but have lost touch with the Christ. Be the bridge in a divided America, resist the temptation to say the “right things” when people are doing wrong things…politics does not have to be this way!
Embracing the cross does not mean you accept things that you feel are wrong. Jesus’ very own temple moment was recorded for that reason; yet true love works harder, endures longer, even weeps more often in order to show a better way, at least a just way.
Will I embrace the cross?