We live in turbulent times. At every turn it seems a new calamity befalls us. People are quick to use tragedies as an opportunity to press their agenda – and prove their view – insisting they are the most correct.
At best this is disheartening. Closer to reality, this response is soul crushing. One of the saddest aspects is what I see in my newsfeed, from my tribe, my fellow Christians. I see my people trying to prove how right they are. What I see running rampant is pride of historical privilege.
Throughout the last 1500 to 1800 years, Christianity has been the religion of choice for entire countries. Christianity was often married to the state. Americans have enjoyed this privilege. It is only within the last 30 to 50 years that we have felt challenged. Because of our longstanding connection to using our religion to shape governments, it has been engrained in us that whatever our view is, it is correct.
A serious problem occurs when the need to be right is our first concern. When our rights become first, discounting people becomes easy. It becomes easier to dismiss hurting and broken people. Politicizing our religion, for the sake of being right, suggests we believe our commission from Jesus was to be right. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing more contrary to the work of Christ.
Jesus and your rights
When I read the Bible, I cannot find any directive that encourages Christians to hold tightly to the principle of being right. Instead what I read are passages like Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves,” Matthew 18:22, when speaking of how often to forgive, Jesus said, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times,” Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” and Matthew 5:39, “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
The Gospel message is flooded with ideas like this. Jesus never said to stand up for our “rights” at the cost of loving people. In fact, everything that He said opposed that view. He said things like “the first will be last and the last will be first.” He was not talking about the monetarily rich or poor. He was talking about the proud and the humble. Jesus’ entire view of ministry is spelled out in Mark 10:45 when He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Our Real agenda
At the end of the day, if you are a Christian, tragedy is not an occasion for you to push your agenda. It is actually the perfect time to push Jesus’ agenda; which is serving and loving people. Even more, you must begin before a tragic event. Loving people must be interwoven into our daily life. So much so, that Jesus’ agenda becomes our response – to every situation. I am not suggesting that we disengage from the political arena, because the Gospel is intended to change hearts. And through the change of hearts, we may have the opportunity to influence governments and cultures. Everything begins with engaging people.
And it does not matter what group you think I am talking about. Pick one: LGBTQ, Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, etc. Regardless of the existing issues between Christians and any of those groups, someone has to close the gap. Someone must go first.
Because of who we are in Christ, and who we chose to follow and call Lord, we go first. We get to go first. We always go first. When it comes to love and compassion, we go first. We are to be Christ to everyone who comes into contact with us. The privilege to represent Him should compel us to go first – with no agenda but His. Go first, without concern for being right, and instead carry the desire to serve, not to be served.