What I Overheard @ the Barbershop
August 4, 2012 § 10 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…