Thursday, July 4, 2024

A Christian Manifesto for the 4th, Love Me


It’s the Fourth of July, and I would like to muse on the concept of freedom and living together in a free country. 

As most of you know, I am a passionate Christian and Jesus is the most important person in my life. I seek to think and act and love in alignment with who he is. 

However, as a Christian, I just don’t subscribe to the various “Christian” political movements that would like me to side with them in trying to create a more supposedly Christian culture via political means. While our country was indeed based on Judeo-Christian values, I don’t want to live in a “Christian” country or try to create some sort of theocracy. I want to live in a country where people feel completely safe, free and comfortable to live according to their own beliefs and philosophies even if my personal opinion of those beliefs and philosophies is that they are crazy or false or don’t align morally with my beliefs about the kind of lives God desires us to pursue in order to flourish and know him. We need basic laws that protect this state of things no matter who is in power. If your right to live as you see fit is not protected, then neither is mine, for surely the wheel will turn again and who is on top now will be on the bottom later.

Following Jesus wholeheartedly means embracing a lot of uncertainty and accepting that many of the things we read in the Bible are hard to understand and can be interpreted many different ways and that the New Testament especially is not a law book for structuring society, but a guide on how to profoundly and sacrificially love the people around us, no matter how vastly they differ from us.  The “Christian” movements that I see so vigorously trying to seize power right now out of fear that our country is going the “wrong” way- I don’t see anything about them that make me think they are about sacrificially and profoundly loving our neighbors at great personal cost to ourselves. That is the core of the gospel, the truth that all things lead back to in the Bible and the very foundation of who God is.

It’s not that I don’t think Christians should be involved in politics, it’s just that when we are, I think we need to consider the well-being of everyone in the country and not just whoever elected us. There’s lots of issues I am passionate about because they affect all of us. I think everybody has the right to clean air and clean water and corporations absolutely do not have a right to pollute the air and water and land that everyone needs for their basic existence. I am passionate about finding ways to compassionately protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us- from embryos and their extremely valuable mothers, through the whole life cycle, all the way to the very end of life to a person who doesn’t even know who they are anymore. I am interested in working on finding common ground with people who have vastly differing opinions on these complex matters and trying to find agreeable solutions. I want to build connections of trust and love with people who are really scared that my “Christian values” will literally harm them or kill them.  

There is so much more I could say. I rarely get involved in political conversations on social media or make comments about people’s memes and posts that just make fun of the other side. In fact, when I am tempted to, I feel a literal sense of a divine slap on the fingers… “nope, not where I’m calling you, Kirstie.” 

Even though opening the news is a bit terrifying, the state of the world is dreadful and this whole election is like a deadly circus, I’m not afraid. I believe God continues to work and fulfill his purposes, no matter who is in power. It’s the paradox at work that sometimes when things are the very worst the very best things happen, and sometimes it’s the very worst things that turn us into the best people.  Also, you know what? No matter what the national and international stage looks like, I know so many incredibly amazing people that just keep doing their thing day and day out, loving the people around them, serving in extremely hard places, having compassionate conversations with their “enemies,” seeking peace, heading right back into the fray even after they have been hurt and offended, criticized, and condemned, ready to love some more. 

I’ll end with a few examples.

My parents’ physician, Dr Todd Granger, who has cared for them in their season of great need better than any doctor I have ever known, with extreme integrity and attention any hours of the day or night, who still makes house calls when necessary, and at prices that are definitely not making him rich.

Jeremy Courtney, founder of Humanite, and the local teams bringing relief to people in the hardest places that are being bombed and terrorized, no matter what their political alliances are. These folks keep going back despite being bombed, shot at, threatened, and even killed.

The good people of my church, Holy Trinity Anglican, working together to serve the hungry of our community with our food pantry, and growing fresh produce in our giving garden. Welcoming anybody who walks in the door. Building relationships with and honoring the civil rights heroes of our town. Doing so many good things secretly behind the scenes that greatly cheer my heart when I find out about them!

A random new friend I made recently sitting at an advertising table outside her place of employment who just radiates friendliness and love, and I have since learned is exactly the kind of person that is ready to jump up and help you with whatever you could possibly need… despite growing up experiencing tremendous abuse, cruelty and trauma. 

My mom, who died last month, and remains the most inspirational human in my life, who loved lavishly, built friendships across many political, religious and economic lines, brought countless “different“ people into our home (foreign, needy, elderly, lonely, outcast, socially awkward), volunteered relentlessly in soup kitchens and programs helping the homeless find housing, programs serving kids and school teachers in Haiti, sponsoring children with World Vision and keeping up a robust correspondence with them, defending anyone she sensed was being bullied or mistreated. Who kept doing all of these things despite bad experiences with some people who tried to take advantage of her good heart. She kept going back into the loving battle… even when she had Alzheimer’s she displayed this kind of love in the midst of great personal suffering. Love was her default setting, a profound gift from the God she loved with all her heart.

This post may have wandered all around and i could write and write for hours about the people around me who shore up my hope in God’s goodness but I think I’m done for now. Take heart, there is much love in the world and light always prevails over darkness, no matter what the news is telling us or what new evil the world tyrants are plotting. Blessings to you on this 4th of July!

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