A young man in our community said that he hoped we were going in a more conservative direction, and that we would see the nation reflect more of our Christian values. I wonder. I would rather see Christians offer words and live lives more reflective of Christian values without suggesting that they should be imposed on civil society. It would be something to witness millions who claim to be Christian proclaim by word and deed what it means to follow Jesus by being like Jesus in their daily lives. Of course it would be imperfect, but the intentionality of loving one’s neighbors in healing ways would be dramatic, particularly if one’s neighbor is whoever one encounters no matter where or how.
Think of it. Millions of people would go through the day making decisions prefaced by questions. How will this affect the poor, both spiritually and physically? How will this affect those mourning, or rejoicing? How will this affect those burdened by oppressive conditions? How will this affect those struggling for justice? How will this affect the balance between justice and mercy? How will this affect standards of integrity and honesty? How will this resolve conflict and deescalate violence in constructive ways? How courageous can I be in the face of evil?
I don’t think they would be conscious of asking questions like these of themselves. They would be habits of the heart, just the ordinary way of going through the day doing things. No doubt some would snicker at all those goody-two-shoes whom they would suspect of having no backbone. They would be wrong. Living that kind of life would require strong determination, an ability to know the difference between sentimentality and reality, and the maturity to live with others without being superior or subordinate. It would recognize the dignity of differing gifts, and highly value each of them. It would require tremendous courage in the face of the greater number intent on manipulation of conditions in pursuit of power, prestige, and wealth. It would require perseverance in the face of those who just don’t care. It would require patience with those whose habits of the heart were destructive of life. Their normal way of things would accommodate imperfection in self and others with honesty, and without excuse. It would tolerate differences between persons and peoples without trying to force uniformity. Christian tradition has name for that kind of life. It’s called the way of the cross, which is none other than the way of life and peace for those who follow Jesus.
You might rightfully ask if it is the kind of life I lead? Let’s just say that I’m a beginner. Some days I get it right. Many days I don’t. Most days are a bit of each. However, if you are among those who call themselves Christian, why not walk along with me and we’ll figure it out together.