Read John 13:34-35; Colossians 3:12-15; 1 John 4:7-12
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)
Ah, it is a Presidential election year and all one has to do is to turn on the TV to see both sides of the aisle jabbing at each other in hopes to secure the White House for their candidate. Often politicians (regardless of their political persuasion), will maneuver themselves in a way that appeals to Christians who are like-minded with them. This has been effective in past elections (for Republicans and Democrats alike) because Christians often define themselves, and their faith, by the very hot topic “moral” issues of their day.
While this is certainly not a new thing in America, as it has gone on since the very outset of our country, it seems that we Christians, regardless of our political bent, miss the boat when it comes to really understanding what our identity as Christians is, and how that identity plays out in our lives. The following is a parable by Søren Kierkegaard who was a Danish philosopher and theologian:
“It is said to have chanced in England that a man was attacked on the highway by a robber who had made himself unrecognizable by wearing a big wig. He falls upon the traveler, seizes him by the throat and shouts, ‘Your purse!’ He gets the purse and keeps it, but the wig he throws away. A poor man comes along the same road, puts it on and arrives at the next town where the traveler had already denounced the crime, he is arrested, is recognized by the traveler, who takes his oath that he is the man. By chance, the robber is present in the court-room, sees the misunderstanding, turns to the judge and says, “It seems to me that the traveler has regard rather to the wig than to the man,’ and he asks permission to make a trial. He puts on the wig, seizes the traveler by the throat, crying, ‘Your purse!’—and the traveler recognizes the robber and offers to swear it—the only trouble is that already he has taken an oath. So it is, in one way or another, with every man who has a ‘what’ and is not attentive to the ‘how’: he swears, he takes his oath, he runs errands, he ventures life and blood, he is executed—all on account of the wig” (Kierkegaard, Søren. A Kierkegaard Anthology. Edited by Robert Bretall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1946.).
Just as the victim of the robbery mistakenly swore that the poor person was the one who robbed him because he saw the wig, it is true that we mistakenly believe that we are Christian because of where we find ourselves in sociopolitical, “moral”, and other issues. If we are truly Christian, our identity does not rest on what side of the divide we find ourselves on; rather, our identity is found in Christ our Savior.
Rather than judging other Christians who disagree with us, rather than judging others as “unsaved” for not sharing our opinion, let us love one another as Christ first loved us (John 13:34). We need not ignore our differences to be united in our true identity: CHRIST. We just need to be humble enough to see Christ in others, even when they disagree with us. Let us not be like the foolish victim in the parable above by mistaking the wig as the man. Let us not mistake Christ for sociopolitical and economic issues. Let us not mistake Christ for modern-day Christianity or for any other institution.
Also, let us not get stuck on the “what” without ever evaluating the “how”. If we are to truly bear witness to Christ in us, then we will judge not and reflect the love, compassion and understanding that Christ had for all of his disciples, from Matthew the tax collector to Simon the zealot who hated tax collectors. Even though not one of the disciples was fully in line with Jesus’ mission and message, Jesus still took the time to include them in what he was doing. He still took the time to love them unconditionally. Let us hear each other out; let us love each other even when we don’t see eye to eye. Christ demanded no less of us!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
We do not belong to Christianity, we belong to Christ.
Lord, help us to see others through your eyes. Though we will not always agree, help us to stand up for what we believe in without compromising the love we are called to reflect. Amen.