Going Non-Polar

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Being polarized has a bad connotation. Someone or some people being at an extreme position, a subjective reading, is a matter of spoiling the comfort of everyone being in moderation.

 

            But there are good ways to be polarized. Mother Theresa was polarized into helping the poor. She was extreme and even made the powerful and comfortable be very uncomfortable.

 

            But for better or worse Christians in America are known a lot for politics and what they are against or for. Often the opinion is in the individuals heart and then they claim an issue or even a party that will be a niche for their passions. They may find a ballot or political party and say “That is my ticket, and therefore God’s ticket!”

 

            The disciples of Jesus were not immune to that. When they, with Jesus, were not well received by the Samaritans they asked about fire being called on them from heaven. Jesus said, “You know not what spirit you are of.” Oops.

 

            Peter learned something about that Oops about the Others. From his experience he prescribes to the Church an approach to the Others with inclusiveness, integrity, wisdom about what grace is for and being impartial. He hits them with these principles here.  

 

 

1 Peter 2:12-17

2:12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.

13 For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14 or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16 As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge… For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish..

            This is powerful because the outreach of Christians can be muddled if it is represented only by words or dogma. Even sacred dogma. “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary use words.” A quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Being maligned by unbelievers happens in the public area. But good deeds rarely goes unnoticed.

 

accept the authority of every human institution…as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.

 

            Many years ago I was in a faith community that prayed for President Bill Clinton and referred to him as the Lord’s anointed servant. A few years later I got pushback on that from very partisan, republican, Christian friends. They questioned the validity of that faith community based on such strong, approving language.

 

            My responses were spiritual and pragmatic:

1-    God is in charge of everyone being in a place of authority.

2-    No political party has a monopoly of God’s ways.

3-    Though my old friends in the faith community believed differently on certain issues, they saw how God could use whoever He wants to use. Plus the term “anointed servant” is used in the old testament about kings that were not directly God-fearing.

 

           

As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.

 

            We are accountable to God, who is holy, to not be “holier-than-thou”. In other words, we are equals in intrinsic value to God and no one is free to sin against god or their neighbor due to an experience. Being made whole by God, which is what salvation is really about, entails an ongoing process. If we submit to God willingly while being free from sin, we will not think we are above judgment.

 

Honor everyone.

            You mean I can’t carry a sign that says, “God hates fags?” Hmmm. You know not what spirit you are of could be a good response.

Love the family of believers.

            We are called to family. Families even disagree, but a good one keeps on loving.

Fear God.

            This is not like fear of an abusive parent. He is so awesome, and He is love, what a sad thing to sin against love? We should be so mindful of that that we do not sin against love. The more extreme we are on that living reality, the more we will think above, who is in office or which political party is in power. If a community that calls itself Christian could be intentional about that, what would they look like to a skeptical or even cynical world?

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