Our Struggle With Politics and Grace
Katharine Lee Bates wrote one of the most beautiful patriotic songs in American history in 1893 on a train trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. As she stared at the seamless sky, beheld the majesty of mountains and gazed at fields of grain she began to pen the now famous words:
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.
As we stand on the pinnacle of the American governmental mountain, an honest evaluation of the current political landscape can be described as angry, turbulent, corrupt, and ungracious. Civility has been replaced with divisiveness where one can be offended if their intolerance is not tolerated. We’ve traded in the ability to honorably disagree only to become indignant "disagreers" who are disagreeable in our disagreeing.
Our society needs to see politics from a self-controlled, righteous authentic man rather than the emotional tirades of those smothering TV networks and social media. Using sections of America, the Beautiful as a backdrop, let’s consider using the approach of a man maturing in his faith rather than pullulating toward society's downward spiral.
God Shed His Grace on Thee
Grace is a tool seldom used in the building of our current society, yet it’s foundational in our faith. Being gracious with people has somehow been replaced with tolerating them. We will acknowledge their existence, yet have contempt for any diversity of thought. This disregard of diversity robs us of deep-rooted spiritual growth and the ability to practice genuine grace. In scripture, the Pharisees despised Jesus because he spent time and broke bread with different ethnicities having different beliefs. They failed to realize His graciousness toward them was a direct correlation to His love for them.
What team icon is painted on the side on your helmet? Is it a donkey, an elephant, or a cross?
As authentic men, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, as well as love our neighbors as ourselves. Easily done, as long as the political sign in the yard or the bumper sticker on the car matches yours. This sentiment is illustrated daily on social media with hate speech, name calling, and personal attacks directed at those with opposing beliefs.Consider this: If an opposing political bumper sticker keeps you from spending time or sharing the gospel with your neighbor, you might be the problem.
And Crown Thy Good With Brotherhood
Brotherhood can be described as men coming together for a common cause to accomplish a greater goal. I often ask former NFL players what they miss most about the game. Without hesitation most of them say their teammates. Their teammates are men from different backgrounds, who make different amounts of money, and have different political views. None of that matters once the pads are on, the cleats are tied, and the National Anthem sung. Personal feelings are set aside to achieve a common goal, to win a game and ultimately a Super Bowl.
Ask yourself this question, “What team icon is painted on the side on your helmet?” Is it a donkey, an elephant, or a cross?
As authentic men, we first serve the man that died for our sins on a cross before we allege to a political party. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 says, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey all I have commanded you.” We don’t disciple men to change their view of politics, we disciple men to help them transform their view of Christ.
If your political bent hinders you from fulfilling your mission to disciple men, then you have some repenting to do.
From Sea to Shining Sea
Every Sunday more than fifty nations are represented at my church. Diversity has become the norm. Although diversity is beautiful to behold, it also brings opportunities for offenses. To equally value someone from another nation, with a different upbringing and different traditions, isn’t easy but it is necessary. As 2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Over the past sixteen years, our church has learned valuable lessons on the importance of unity in the midst of diversity. We’ve learned to love, respect, and honor each other through disagreements and differences of opinions, without compromising one's personal conscience. We wrestle through issues that are essential to our faith, yet leave the non-essentials to each individual to work out.
As ministers of reconciliation, we’re willing to be more gracious with those who don’t share the same beliefs in order for reconciliation to be possible. The political season being in full bloom doesn’t excuse us from this ministry. It’s doubtful we’ll ever provoke, protest, irritate, or instigate people to be reconciled to Christ.
In the days of old, a herald was an official messenger sent by nobleman or monarchs to convey a message or proclamation during wartime. There is a cultural war being fought for the soul of our nation. Our King, Jesus Christ, has sent us as heralds to deliver the good news of the gospel. That Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died in our place. Three days later he rose from the dead proving He is the Son of God and now offers the gift salvation to all who believe.
As authentic men, we vote our conscience and trust God that he places those in authority over us. Then we willingly put aside our political persuasions in order for our families, friends and neighbors to truly experience and be drawn by the love of Christ.
Fear Not, Fight Well
JT McCraw is the men’s pastor at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN and the founder of the BE MEN Movement, where he provides oversight for this multi-ethnic, multi-site men’s ministry, focusing on engaging and equipping men to serve Christ. Presently they have locations in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona. JT lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of twenty-four years and their five children. You can follow JT on Twitter @jtmccraw.