What does it mean to be an Easter people?
In what way are we aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11)?
Is it possible to opt out of the current ‘Argument Culture’?

You can say “a different way to be in the world” … and that first step is a change in your personal orientation.

The next step is then to talk about being “a different way in the world”, which is a communal commitment and expression.

The emphasis of the first is the “be”.  A different way to be in the world asks us to consider how we approach the world, how we position ourselves, our posture toward the world, and our participation with the world.

  • How we approach the world
  • How we position ourselves in relation to the world
  • How we are postured toward the world
  • How we participate with the world

The emphasis of the second approach is the “way”.  This imagery rings familiar for Christians because Jesus proclaimed that “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Following the teaching of Jesus is not just a different way to be in the world (though it certainly is), but the church is to be a different way in the world.

  • Forgiveness and reconciliation where there is division and animosity
  • Connection and community are prioritized
  • Peace and ‘shalom’ wholeness are desired
  • Unplugging from partisan politics and consumerism

Sadly, throughout history, the church has often followed the world’s way. It has utilized power, violence, personal gain, and many other worldly-ways to accomplish its work. People have used God’s name to get their way – but they have not always done it in God’s way.

The gospel is not just a different way of being in the world. It calls us to be a different way in the world.

If you don’t like the way that the world works, if you don’t want to be that way toward your neighbor, the stranger, and even your ‘enemy’, Christ offers you another way of being in the world. Then, when a number of us do this together, it provides a chance for others to find a different way – a path that leads to a different place.

Not understanding this has led to ‘the church’ participating in partisan politics. Christians have become a part of the problem and are actually making the situation worse. This happens in Liberal circles, in Conservative camps, and with folks who have opted out of the process altogether because they are disillusioned and don’t want to vote for ‘the lesser of two evils’.[1]

Aligning with the Republicans and the Democrats is failing us. Fox News and MSNBC (or NPR) are not the problem nor are they the solution. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul “neither voting or not voting brings in the kin-dom of God” but right-living, peace and joy in God’s Spirit.  (Romans 14:17) [2]

Cable news and social media are not the way. In fact, this is part of how we have been seduced by the ideologies of our day. Conservatives who want to legislate morality and Liberals who look to identity politics as an end in itself are practicing the way of the world. You can’t legislate morality and identity politics are great for liberal politics but not for sacred community.[3]

Jesus calls us to a different way of being in the world that does not use our race, gender, class, and sexuality as boundary markers. It includes and transcends the categories of identity and belonging (Galatians 3:28).

Likewise, the way is not found in military strength. It is not satisfied by consumerism or credit card debt. It is not found in reclaiming some idealized past or in returning to some romanticized notion from a previous era. It is not about becoming more orthodox in our beliefs or extravagant in our worship and sacrifice.

Once we discover a different way of being in the word (first step) and then collaborate with others to be a different way in the world (second step) then we may choose to partner with or support those elements of political parties that help bring about the greater good. These are the first two steps on a very long journey.

To be clear: I am not an idealist but I am a true believer. I am not after utopia. There is no pure or perfect to be had. Just writing this in English (or any language) is inherently compromised and corrupted. We have been formed and informed by the very words and ideas that we have been given. We are groomed and conditioned from birth in the way of the world.

Christ’s way will never be popular. It will always be a minority movement. It started that way and is perfectly suited to be that way. It does, however, provide a different way for an individual to be in the world and collectively we provide the world a different way than its round-and-round, dog-eat-dog, us versus them, march toward destruction.

Admittedly, I am being foolish here. I believe that there is a different way that isn’t measured in dollars, or troops, or ‘likes’, or members, or votes, or converts, or doctrinal purity, or visibility, or sales, or laws, or nearly anything that can be measured or quantified.[4]

The current way of being the world is being exposed as a rotten tree. We can smell its sour fruit. Its roots in division and deceit are coming to the surface. It can barely stand under the weight of its own burden. It provides no future or hope that the way forward will be satisfying or liberating.

Our hope is to follow the way of Christ, to live in the truth of God’s love, and to live life in the Spirit. If we did this, together, we would open up possibilities that are not even visible to us yet.

 

 

[1] If you are going to vote, I would certainly encourage you to vote for less evil. If nothing else we could use less evil.

[2] “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (NASV)

[3] Identity politics is great for politics. Of course someone’s politics should be informed by their social identity and location! What else would it be informed by – ideology?

[4] If you are looking for specifics, step one might focus on passages like the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and step 2 might begin to look at passages like 2 Corinthians 5:19 in which God reconciled with the whole world through Christ and then gave Christ’s people the ministry of reconciliation. The first step is often personal and the second is always collective.

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