If you’re like me, the last five to six years has been a tough and growing period. Both my faith and politics have been challenged. In the past, I was defined by my faith and political affiliations. And I was proud of them. But when more powerful voices took over those communities, I was left on the fringes. I lost some identity.
This upheaval caused me to develop a more genuine relationship with both God and those around me. My faith needed to start reflecting my Lord, rather than the Church doing so. In regard to politics, I needed to invest more into relationships rather than seek out those who most identified with me.
Finally, I found that faith and politics weren’t really separable, and they don’t have to be when they’re guided by what faith really is about: reflecting the essence of God, not his perfection; that is love.
A musician friend of mine recently posted some thoughts on this and it hit me deep. We’ve both served the Church together in music and songwriting, so I related to his story. I felt it was valuable for my readers who find themselves in exile these days, with MAGA, BLM, hashtags, and social media-driven strife filling our church foyers and Facebook pages.
Everything is connected, but not everything matters the same. One thing does: love. Whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, conservative, or liberal, you should be able to relate to this sentiment. Beyond worship music or church ministry, I saw a life lesson. What I read/heard was “keep it simple.” This is what he shared:
LIVING IN THE LIGHT OF BEING LOVED
I was listening to an interview today from Australian songwriter and former worship leader Geoff Bullock. Geoff is the author behind several well-known church songs like "The Power Of Your Love,” "This Kingdom,” I Will Never Be,” and many others.
During the interview, he was asked to explain worship and it's impact on our lives. He first explains the gospel, relationship with Jesus and why we worship God. Then he goes on and says the following:
"We can sing our songs, we can play our music, and have our wonderful assemblies and do what we do. But the music is just a tune, a melody, it's a lyric about a lifestyle that has changed us from the inside out. It's a relationship, a worship lifestyle that changes how we relate to others, to a broken world. It changes how we look at refugees, changes how we look at the inequality in the health system, inequality in the financial system. It is a relationship that makes us care for others. And in the end, its a relationship that doesn't demand our favorite songs. It demands us to live in the light of being loved."
It's interesting to hear a worshiper describe a bridge between relationship with God and empathy. So often, people attach a very "me" focused attitude to their relationship with God. They talk about how much they've been changed. But I'm always wondering: changed to what? I grew up hearing Christians talk about being saved out of sin. But I rarely heard about them being saved into kindness, empathy, compassion, openness... or grace. In fact, most of the time, the gospel was preached from a position of guilt and condemnation.
We saved people to make them stop sinning, to act right. But we often think that evidence of God in us is simply being fearless saviors of others. It was the idea that if you get "saved” then your job is to save others - that's the endgame. But it’s not working. And somehow, we’ve missed so much in-between.
I've seen a lot of people "saved" into evangelism, programs, ministries and quotations, but rarely into grace. What happens when we are legitimately saved, captured, and changed by the love of God? Do we stop sinning? Maybe, kinda. But lets be honest, most people don't stop sinning. They may change certain sins, or quit certain sins. Some sins they keep. Sometimes they even pick up new ones. But check out Romans chapter 1 - there’s no totem pole of sins.
So what's really meant to happen when people encounter God?
"Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and anyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. Anyone who does not love, doesn't know God; for God is love." - 1 John 4:7-8
Could it be that in encountering God, we become aware of our humanity and are meant to recognize it in others? Rather than despise the humanity in others, maybe we're meant to have compassion for it. Maybe this is why Jesus said that the greatest law He gives is love. Wrestling with sin may always be a part of life on earth. Jesus never said to not care about living a righteous life. But overcoming sin has never been achieved through toil, comparison, or the condemning of others. It’s overcome by loving them.
BUT IT’S FOR A GOOD CAUSE!
When Peter chopped off the servant’s ear in the garden, Jesus condemned neither Peter nor the man he attacked. Instead, he reached out and healed the man's ear - expressing compassion and forgiveness to both men at the same time.
And there's a message in that episode: That Peter, the strong-willed, well-intentioned Christ follower cut off the ear of one Christ meant to save. How often do Christians - in their zeal - cut off the ears of those Christ means to save? We spend so much time being caught up in behavior, politics and people's outward decisions that we so easily forget the heart. When we criticize, condemn, complain and preach against others, are we not slicing their ears with the sword of the Word (or our own words)? How can they hear the truth?
Jesus loved neither of the men more than the other. He loved both, healed both, and saved both. They had value.
People shouldn't have to belong to the same team for us to love them and have compassion.
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