What I Overheard @ the Barbershop

August 4, 2012 § 9 Comments

Getting a haircut is an every-two-week ritual for me. If Floyds is open, all is right with the world. Floyds bills itself as ‘the original rock and roll barbershop,’ and it is the only place I ever look ‘ministerial’ (hence the picture). Yesterday the talk of the shop was Chick-Fil-A – I just listened and enjoyed.

If you were to ask our congregation here in Maryland, they would tell you that I bend over backwards to not discuss politics from the pulpit. We don’t distribute voter guides. We don’t discuss candidates and we don’t politicize the gospel – ever. Period.

It isn’t that I am apolitical, but that politics don’t figure into the Kingdom of God in the way that many seem to think. Jesus isn’t a capitalist, nor is He a socialist. He is the King. He is not subject to, nor bound by the flaws, loopholes and blind spots of any socio-political system. He is above them. As we sing each Christmas, His law is love and His gospel is peace – Welcome to my political platform.

John calls Jesus ‘the ruler of the kings of the earth’ (Revelation 1:4-6). This is Jesus. He bows to no one. He subscribes to no candidate. He cannot be contained by any single philosophical structure. The moment one thinks they have Jesus figured out, they are left in the dust.

I often say that Jesus (as with His gospel) is more liberal than liberalism and more conservative than conservatism. He is better than the best of every system known to humankind and He is immune to any of their weaknesses. He is unafraid to champion social justice before rigid conservatives, and He is unashamed of objective truth before soft liberals. He is neither. He is above both. He loves the weak. He embraces the poor. He engages the rich. He challenges the strong. He saves Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Communists and Libertarians alike. He walks in mixed circles. His friends are sinners.

You may not like this but be glad it is true.

So please don’t tell me that our politics cause Him, even for a moment, to flinch.

Friends, we easily get so wrapped up in the wrong things. And I believe that if we were to dig deeply into our own hearts we would discover that we are not protecting the gospel in our politics, but ourselves. Let’s be honest. Our relationships and life experiences shape much of who we are and how we view the entire world. To whittle ourselves down to some political platform only reveals part of our own stories. But to leave it there is to limit our view of the gospel’s ability to heal, inform and shape us.

I would argue that anyone so reactionary to current events, who would either ruthlessly condemn or blindly follow; angrily react, or snobbishly dismiss, is not guided by political principle, but pride, or fear, or pain – or all-the-above. But not Jesus.

For me, I would just as soon have a spirited political debate with friends who enjoy getting in my face, and vice versa, right before we argue over football schedules, or David Letterman’s Top Ten. None are more important to the One who never wearies in seeking lost sheep and healing broken lives. Both my liberal and conservative friends respect this, and for this I am in their debt.

You need to know that your politics don’t even register on Jesus’ scale, and that is a good thing. In the mean time, His intolerance is for those who disregard the call of the gospel. To the Perfect One, all are unfinished.

So in the mean time…

If they are hurting, let’s not allow their politics determine our responses
If they are broken, let’s hold them until Jesus mends them
If they are angry, we are to be ‘soft answers’ that turn away wrath
If they are rebellious, we can still be their friends
If they are thirsty, naked, homeless or lost, then Jesus has put us in their path to give them drink, clothing, shelter – or just a hand…

Anything less is trivial to the King, because His passion has never been about idealism. It is His Father’s glory – and it is you.

I overheard that too – and it is good news…

peace.

§ 9 Responses to What I Overheard @ the Barbershop

  • Tracy Dain says:

    Mike,
    Thank you for this post! I read all of them. I needed this one. I ranted about this on my fb and wish you had written this before I had typed away. I needed this reminder of just who our King is. Boy, He has a lot of work to do with me!

    Love you guys,
    Tracy Segar Dain

  • Lisa Pinder says:

    I agree with Tracy! Wonderful article and boy did I need it too!!! I am learning the power of peaceful quiet and need to practice it more. Remembering I am a child of Christ is the first step… thanks again.

  • Fred Fauth says:

    Mike, great article and great reminder. I think the church faces a real cross roads on the gay marriage debate which has been kicked up in a firestorm over Cathy’s comments. I have talked to a number of people online and had an hour long conversation with a friend from work who has been in a committed gay relationship for 20 years. On the one hand, traditional churches believe that scripture rightly condemns homosexuality, and backs up such a position with the arc of God’s plan relative to man and woman, the Genesis story, and 5-6 verses in Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Timothy. They condemn homosexuality as a sinful byproduct and expression of the fall, and note that while we are to love the sinner (with all that entails), we are not to regard homosexual acts or homoemotional commitments as Godly. We are to maintain our principle of what is right, pure, and holy.

    On the other hand we have among us gay couples who have been together for 10, 20, or 30+ years, in committed relationships, appearing from all outward measures to be loving and committed to each other. They share homes, bank accounts, experiences, love for each other’s families, regard for society, charitable involvement, etc. Some of them even profess Christ. They believe that their homosexuality, and its expression within a committed relationship, as not a sin. These people see the charges against homosexuality in scripture as pointing to “using” relationships, those not characterized by love and commitment such as prostitution, fornication (which equates to a physical relationship not at the same level of the shared commitment of two individuals), adultery, pedophilia (the using of children as sex slaves, as was not uncommon in Greece and Romans at the time of Paul’s writing), sex trafficking, pornography, etc.

    These people see Christians’ prohibitions on same sex committed relationships as unnatural given Christ’s charge to love others, and their own experience of the relationship. The one person in particular that I had a conversation with is not even “hateful” that I hold an opposing view from her on the topic. She was personally rejected from membership in an evangelical church because she was in a committed gay relationship with her partner after attending that church for several years. It barred her from participating in teaching Sunday school, from voting in church meetings, from standing with people at the baptism of children, and from professing a public commitment to Christ.

    The message that our church has for those people is that we love them, but they cannot become members of our church. They should seek Jesus, and through him recognize the error in their relationship. They must ultimately part ways (or at least, move their relationship to a non-sexual one, or a “not that kind” of relationship). While some Christians are willing to provide such gay couples political equality, they would not agree that gay couples ought to be members of the church. Their lifestyle is one of perversion, having traded “natural relations for unnatural ones.” And their perversion is so deep, they don’t even realize it is perversion.

    These people also see that the church is rather selective in the prohibitions it adopts from the New Testament. We don’t require women to wear head coverings because we “culturalize away” that instruction and explain it in terms of the ultimate principal to which it was pointing (male headship). We rarely, if ever, tell a person on their second marriage that they cannot join the church because Christ says that their marriage is an adulterous one. We permit women to speak in churches, saying that the prohibitions on women’s speaking and teaching in Timothy were specific to the church to whom Paul was writing at the time. Indeed, we look like a community that is happy to pick and choose what things from Paul’s writings are currently important to us, and which ones must be understood “within the context of the culture and times” that Paul was writing. We use advanced hermeneutics to explain exactly why the “plain” meaning of these scriptures doesn’t really apply, but we’re unwilling to bend these same hermeneutics on the handful of NT verses that address homosexuality.

    One further view, and then I’ll stop typing so much on your blog, is that homosexuality itself is a product of a broken and fallen world, and the homosexual act itself is not innately sinful. Sure, we’d like everyone to be heterosexual, but some people aren’t. The results of Adam’s sin suck that way. Right now, the church’s answer to those folks is that you can be celebate, or you can perhaps get counseling and marry heterosexually (with seemingly dubious results from everything I’ve read, but who knows). But you absolutely cannot be in a committed homosexual relationship because that expresses the abomination that God was so against.

    If we are going to condemn homosexual behavior in committed relationships, I think we really need to clearly express exactly now such sexual acts demonstrate ongoing depravity and separation from Christ. We need to show how committed people’s heterosexual expressions aren’t depraved, but committed people’s homosexual expressions are depraved. And I think telling people that “well, they just don’t express what God originally intended” is perhaps not strong enough. Or maybe it is… but most of the time when we explain why something is sinful, we can clearly articulate why it either pulls us away from Christ, or harms another human being, in terms that most people get.

    Just some thoughts. I know there’s a lot here and very honestly, I’m not sure what to do with it all. This topic has been consuming me all week, and your reference to the “Chick Fil A” incident gave me just enough room to write this.

    I really appreciate having you as a pastor.

    Fred

  • Cyn says:

    And then there are those of us who do not consider Jesus one of the gods, and are sick and tired of having the poorly translated and selectively edited bible used as the american sort of sharia law. Time to quit using religion in a political setting all together. The Founders did their best to prevent it.

  • jeremy bergolios says:

    Well put sir. I wholeheartedly agree while still enjoying the debate
    and the opinions/reasoning of others that it brings. If i had more time Id engage more in some of the controversial topics I’ve brought up on my Facebook page. Its great to hear where others are coming from, while being respectful of their beliefs, but not being afraid to share your own. I wish I could say I was perfect at it but that would be a lie. All that being said Im thankful for a pastor who does not push political beliefs in the pulpit.

  • […] Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Marriottsviolle, MD.  This article first appeared on his blog, Unfinished1,  and is used with […]

  • Great article, brother, and hilarious picture. I appreciate your thoughts here.

  • olivia hammar says:

    Love this Mike. I also love the verse in Proverbs, The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. I sent this entry to that political hack I call my husband too!
    Keep blogging!
    Olivia

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