I don’t know about you, but over the years I have noticed that political issues have a way of becoming intertwined with faith. I have seen the church become associated with issues that should have nothing to do with faith or scripture. I have noted that some church members abandon core values for the sake of political expedience. We excuse bad behavior or humanistic positions because the politician is “our guy” and blast the positions of the “other guy,” though their position is consistent with scripture and the Christian faith while “our party” has an inconsistent platform.
You may be wondering what some of those issues are, but I’ll reserve most of those for another day. Today, one such value of the Kingdom that I find that I must address is reconciliation. When did reconciliation become something the church should avoid – particularly when it is related to race or culture? I understand that you were not the one who put smallpox infested blankets in the hands of the native Americans. I realize that you didn’t slaughter the indigenous islanders. I am fully aware that you have never owned slaves or enslaved whole people groups.
I assume that you view all humans as humans – God’s prized creation. I believe that most people want to live at peace with their neighbor, and that all believers in Jesus want to see all people reconciled to the Father from every nation, tribe, and language. I further believe that reconciliation with the Father is demonstrated by our ability to reconcile with one another. Jesus said, “As you forgive, so you will be forgiven.”
I wonder what political positions I hold that are inconsistent with a Biblical worldview? What positions have we overlooked for political expedience or popularity? Can we afford to think about these things? Can we afford not to?
Why do I care about reconciliation? Because God has called His people to be ministers of reconciliation. This reconciliation is not just something that happens with our Father, but a lack of reconciliation among His children breaks the Father’s heart. God wants us to live at peace with one another – and that doesn’t mean an arbitrary line drawn down the backseat of the car, or through a desert! Borders only serve to keep the peace, but borders have never been known to create peace.
The point is this, sometimes reconciliation requires one party, (hopefully both parties), to reach across a perceived border of hostility with an olive branch of peace. This usually includes an apology for a perceived, or real wrong committed. I have had times that I have had to apologize for my team, both as a player and as a coach. Once, I even apologized as a fan. I hope you never have to apologize for your family or your church.
As a pastor of an evangelical church in Colorado Springs, I find myself apologizing for the behavior of national evangelicals who continue to espouse political ideals as though they are Kingdom ideals – knowing full-well that Jesus spoke against such political ideals. I apologize for not speaking out more clearly about Jesus’ teachings, about Paul’s teachings, and the whole counsel of Scripture concerning God’s love for all the nations.
I apologize for those times that I defended various institutions just because it was politically or relationally expedient. I am sorry for the Homogenous Unit Principle that drove church planting over the past 50 years – we gather according to generation, race, and socio-economic status. We have lost the heart of the Gospel in our attempt to remove obstacles to the Gospel. We turned our churches into monocultural worship experiences designed for people who look just like us.
There is no room for racial hostility in the Kingdom of God. Have we forgotten that He has torn down the hostility through His sacrifice, (Ephesians 2:11-16)? We should regularly embrace our brothers and sisters who look just like us – they are the ones who belong to the human race and the family of God. When we are reconciled with our brother and sisters, we can be assured that this is a place of commanded blessing by God, (Psalm 133). May we serve as ministers of reconciliation to bring all God's children back to the Father through Jesus, and may we dwell together in unity through the power of the Holy Spirit as one household of faith.