As our society convulses under social, gender, and racial clashes, sensitivities are on high alert. I was reminded of this again recently when valued friends on the conservative side of the political spectrum said that perceived politics made them feel no longer welcome at church. Then, within one hour, other valued friends - these on the left side of the political spectrum -- said they were leaving the church because we didn't take a strong enough stand on matters of race and justice. It broke my heart.
I'll admit that for just a moment, I thought about introducing them to each other (though they actually already knew each other) and letting them hash it out! Instead I invited them both to consider the idea that the gospel leads us to a way of life that transcends identity politics and it's oft-vicious destruction of people. But the gospel does so not by staying silent or, worse, carefully tip-toeing around important topics, for fear of offending someone, though I would suggest that offense is taken far more often than it's given.
Instead, the gospel presents its own ideology, a specific theology of God and human life, and an epistemology - a way of knowing - which has incumbent social implications. Thus, if we allow the gospel to shape our worldview, to become our way of knowing, it will always cross our politics, always challenge our social convictions, always shape our understanding of the faithful life, regardless of what 'side of the aisle' on which we fall. It's been true since the day of Nicodemus.
This weekend's scripture passage is about a lot of things, but mostly it's about allowing Jesus to re-shape the constructs with which we understand the world. Read it closely here, and we'll enjoy exploring it together.
Come, and bring a friend.