*The following is part of a series called “A Changed Perspective” to challenge the way in which we view the world, culture, people, and places from a biblical perspective. Undoubtedly, for Christ followers to live in the world but not be of the world is a challenging task, but with humble spirits, teachable hearts, the Word of God, and His Spirit that lives within to guide and lead us, He allows us to be part of His redemptive work in the world around us.
This particular blog was adapted from a sermon by Pastor Nate Poetzl. This is a great message directed toward the Church, those who have put their faith in Jesus and are His followers. To listen to the whole sermon, visit https://soundcloud.com/faithchapel-882027086/talking-points-part-1.
Have you noticed how much outrage there seems to be these days? More than I’ve ever witnessed in my life. People are outright mad! Outrage is a form of anger. Lately it seems, rather than embrace the ability to dialogue there is less conversation than I’ve ever experienced. When I’m outraged, what do I do? Instead of listening and respecting you, I cancel you. I over shout you. I over argue you. I ignore you. I shame you. I do whatever I can do to get you to stop believing something different than me. For those of us who are followers of Christ, I honestly believe we have an opportunity that is unprecedented to radically live out the words of Jesus in John 17. Jesus, not only prayed for His church, but also, gave instructions about how to handle disagreements that are revolutionary and subversive that our current culture doesn’t understand as it is the exact opposite of what is currently happening now.
I want to present a couple of questions for you: 1) Can we, as followers of Jesus, love unconditionally and simultaneously disagree passionately about certain things, even political things? In our world, in these times, we disagree passionately but there is no love. Passionate disagreement leads to outrage, furthering a breakdown in communication resulting in people to break apart into factions. It leads to more and more divisiveness, judgement, separation, and accusation. As followers of Jesus, what are we afraid of? A follower of Jesus doesn’t have anything to be angry about because we have nothing to be afraid of. There is a King who is on a throne and He has been there since the beginning of time. Ladies and gentlemen, He is not going anywhere; as a follower of Jesus YOU are part of an eternal Kingdom that is never going to change. So, I challenge you to let some of those fears begin to dissipate. God is in control!
Here’s my second question: 2) Am I willing to filter my opinions, even my political opinions, through the lens of Scripture rather than filtering my faith through the lens of politics? I have to decide what my filter, i.e. my political ideologies, and my worldview are as a whole. By default, we naturally filter our understanding of the Bible through our own ideologies, but as radical followers of Jesus we’re called to reverse the order. We are called to filter our opinions through the lens of Scripture.
John 17:20-23 say, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (NIV).
In the first part of John 17 Jesus is praying for His disciples. In vs. 20 Jesus expands His prayer. This is His prayer as He’s facing the end of His life. Looking forward through time, He’s even foreseeing troubling times like 2020, and this is what He prays: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who believe in me through the message.” He’s praying for us! He’s praying for centuries of followers that are going to exist in time. And here’s the prayer: “That all of them may be one.” ALL OF THEM. Different languages, different ethnicities, different cultures, different political ideologies, Jesus is praying fervently so that they may be brought to complete unity – as being spiritually united in faith and action as members of Christ’s body. Take note here – it doesn’t say uniformity. Jesus’ prayer isn’t asking that they all be exactly the same, that they think the same way as you or I do, but that they may be brought to unity and when we are unified, when we love, then the world will know that God sent us His son Jesus, whom He loved, and who also loves us. What a prayer to pray at the very end of His life. Jesus’ foremost desire for His church is love and unity, in spite of all of our differences.
Just a few chapters before, in chapter 13, Jesus is talking to His disciples. He says, “A new command I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you” (v. 34). How did Jesus love us? He was innocent, He died for you and me, He suffered for you and me, and He accepted all of us in the midst of all our brokenness and fallibility. He said “I want you to love one another as I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” People are not going to know you’re a Christian by that bumper sticker on your car. Gratefully, Jesus gives us a perfect lesson on how to love. As the disciples were eating a traditional Passover feast, Jesus came into the room. Remember, this is their Lord, the One they looked to, for He was the revered rabbi. But Jesus did something that was hard to understand. He stripped down to His undergarments, wrapped a towel around His waist, and did what only a slave would do. For the disciples, this would have been humiliating and embarrassing. Jesus got down on His knees and began to wash their feet. It was the most humbling act anyone could do, especially, as in the Middle East feet were considered incredibly dirty. Even then, it was one thing when Jesus came to Peter to wash his feet, but it is something entirely different when He came to Judas Iscariot. Remember, Judas Iscariot was on the verge of stabbing Jesus in the back. He was planning on selling Jesus out to the religious leaders for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus said, “This is what I’m going to show you about love. Love is taking someone who betrays you and washing their feet. I’ll humble myself before you.” A beautiful example of loving others, even those about to betray you, through a kingdom lens.
The reality is, we can help people find Jesus by loving them unconditionally, even if we disagree with them passionately. On a Tuesday in November, a political candidate will win or lose depending on how people vote. It all hinges on that. Every day the Church will win or it will lose depending on how we love one another. I celebrate engagement as I believe everyone should have personal formed opinions. I encourage everyone to read; be thoughtful; be the most active citizens possible. However, I can never give my heart to a political ideology. My heart belongs to Jesus. If I’ve given my heart to an ideology, I will not be able to carry out the radical words of Jesus to love unconditionally, even when we disagree passionately. Ask yourself this question: Do you believe Jesus doesn’t know what it’s like to live in the United States of America in 2020? HE DOES, and this is what He prayed: “I pray that they would love one another in a way doesn’t make sense. In a way that is supernatural. I pray that they would have unity, even though they may have differing opinions; that they would exist in me, I am them, and us in the Father.” Amen.