Patricia Heaton, the actress with a solid TV pedigree and a rare conservative in Hollywood said this over the weekend. “If you are a common-sense person, you probably don’t feel you have a home in this world right now. If you’re a Christian, you know you were never meant to.”
It’s a stark reminder that people of faith are aliens, that the reason all of this feels so out of place is because we don’t really belong on either side. Although our citizenship is ultimately heaven, in the “city to come,” we are still meant to make a difference. We neither don’t own this culture. We aren’t responsible for it. But we serve it with a broken heart, merciful servants to a fallen world.
In the current political and cultural dogfights, Christians simply cannot fully support either side. There are few voices of reason right now and we increasingly are finding ourselves out of sorts. As both the left and the right are hoping to pull us into their orbit, this is a reminder that we can be salt and light without swallowing the red or blue pill of politics.
The political theater is in full session right now. The rout of the previous political administration won’t stop at policy reversal. It will be a purge of supporters, exposing them and shaming them.
Guilt by Association
The lawless actions of several hundred rioters on the U.S. Capitol is a terrible, national stain. Every right-thinking person opposes what happened, even as we shunned the occupation of major U.S. cities last summer. But the blame game is not stopping with the lawbreakers. Many want to extend the shame to millions of others, a guilt by association usually reserved for banana republics.
Nearly one-half of America bet on the wrong horse. A righteous win would be to find a way to convince and reach out to the losing side, convincing them with logic and reason. I pray that we won’t devolve into a shame culture, dragging the defeated through the streets and silencing every dissenting voice.
But I predict this won’t stop at political expression. Religious thought, which is rooted not in the state but in the edicts of heaven, will increasingly be deemed as at odds with culture, even hateful.
And soon they will come for us.
Where did our freedom go?
A new government really changes nothing. There will be policies that some will hate, while others will love. But the truth is that our slide toward inhumanity to each other will continue. Our divisions will deepen. Our disdain for decency will continue.
If you are an American reading this, you know that Christianity goes back to the founding of this nation and has been allowed a rare freedom, especially when compared to the rest of the world. Very few nations allow such freedom as we have, as the guarantees are chiseled in our founding documents.
That’s why it’s so shocking to see the walls start to creep in on us.
Advocates for free speech have been appalled at the increasing prevalence of cancel culture, the ability to shut down free expression in the event some might be offended. It started on college campuses, where liberal arts became illiberal, where the benefits of exposure to a wide variety of thought and disciplines have been reduced to a singular approved pattern of thinking. It later moved to social media, where it became easy to virtually swarm someone’s home, pelting it with disdain until the offender stood on the front step, head bowed in submission.
And of course, free expression is closely united to freedom of assembly and worship. With governments going out of their way to target worshippers during the pandemic with hardly a whimper from the flock, this mandated separation has settled in as the new normal.
Our purpose transcends politics
Do you love Bible promises? How about this one: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, the world hates you.”
Christian, you will be chastised, ostracized, removed. You’ll be an outsider, a nobody, a misfit, a lackey. You’ll be the last one picked, the first one thrown out. You’ll be mocked. You’ll be pigeon-holed and misunderstood. This is the way of the cross. There is no other way.
For centuries, God’s faithful believers have lived through despots, knaves, and fools as kings and rulers. The Church has survived tyrants, dictators, and simpletons at the helm. Since we are in the world, but not of it, our purpose transcends politics.
That’s the city on a hill we should long for. The Kingdom of God transcends any party, any platform, any body politic.
This world is not my home.