We can be Christians and ____ : a defense of ACU’s Optimist

This afternoon, one of my Facebook friends posted a link to the website of ACU’s student newspaper. The article featured was an editorial response to comments the newspaper had received after endorsing President Obama for a second term. If you would like some additional context for this piece, I encourage you to read that article, the endorsement, and the comments.

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Before I’d finished the response, I had to close the window. I spun out of my chair and walked back along the hallway toward the copy room, to make some coffee, clean the table…something.

The fist behind my ribcage quickened, and I could feel the blood pounding red, agitating my limbs, wanting action. But why? What’s another internet fight between Christians? It’s the daily routine: offense, anger, pride and biting speech filling up the comment boxes.

But these are my Christians. This is my school. Just a few months ago, I would have waited with my friends after chapel as the lines thinned, slid my card, stepped, haltingly, down the stairs under section K and grabbed my own copy of the Optimist.

So I went back to the computer, read the editorial, read the comments, readied my own response, rallying myself in support of the college students being virtually berated by 40 year old alumni.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…

And then this comment:

Tell me “How can one be a Christian and a Democrat [?]”

that saved a wretch like me…

It’s a phrase thrown out so easily, repeated too often: how can you be a Christian and…

And call yourself a republican?
And align yourself with the democrats?
And spend billions on the weapons?
And support the rights of gays to marry?
And encourage women in roles that contradict scripture?
And cling to a broken hierarchy?

I once was lost, but now I’m found…

Can’t you just hear the condemnation, the indignation dripping off those words? You can’t live out two contradictory identities simultaneously. So surrender your faith or admit defeat. Because you cannot possibly be a true disciple of Christ and ….

Because I am a Christian. I know what God wants. So how can we both claim the same God?

was blind, but now I see…

Because when we teach an inerrant, get-it-right-or-you’re-going-to-hell theology, we end up with Christians devoid of humility, unable to admit uncertainty lest they condemn themselves.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…

And when we preach a God born in 1776, tied irrevocably to the Manifest Destiny stretched between Washington and Washington, we end up with Christians who worship political parties, terrified that the wrong vote will oust God himself, banish him forever from these shores, like a deposed king.

and grace my fears relieved…

It is not enough to rail against the vitriol and the hatred. It is not enough to plead niceness. We need a better theology, a theology that can handle our disagreement.

How precious did that grace appear…

So we can be Christians and…

Because I believe in a God who is not threatened or empowered by political parties or policy makers. I believe in a God who does not need the President of the United States of America to be on his side. I believe in a God who existed long before Jefferson made his declaration and will continue to exist long after North America has devolved into the Hunger Games.

the hour I first believed.

Because I believe in a love that will not be weakened by my inadequacies. I believe in a deep, incomprehensible love for this mess of a planet that will not be thwarted by my endorsement or my vote or my ideology.

And because I believe that if I give everything I have to walk beside my God, to love with mercy, and to seek justice, that God’s grace is sufficient for the rest. Even if I get it wrong every single time.

I am not threatened by our disagreements. I am not frightened by Fox News or The Optimist’s endorsement. I am not afraid of admitting that I might be wrong. Because I believe in a grace that will cover the insufficiencies of our reasoning and a God that will not be stopped by them.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.

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6 thoughts on “We can be Christians and ____ : a defense of ACU’s Optimist

  1. Amen! Another problem that I have with all of the “Christian” debates about politics is that the majority of the concerns of the political realm deal in making one’s own life better. I’m not about to say that we should stop all pursuits of a good life. Yet, we should be uncomfortable when the candidate whose policies bring the most economic, social, and political benefits to us seems to be the one the “voice of God” is telling us is right.

    God is in the business of what it best for my neighbor, not what is going to privilege me. Turns out that grace thing is supposed to define our actions toward others as well. Funny how that works, huh?

    Thanks for your inspiring and encouraging words, friend.

    • Matt, I completely agree. We were never called to go after what will make us happy or comfortable or secure above all else. Funny how often what we want and what “God wants” tend to be the same thing.

      Thank you, Mattie. I’m enjoying your blog and I hope you’re doing well!

  2. Rock on Becca!!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself…actually couldn”t have said it as well. Political ideology is an idol. A substitute for God when we are afraid and not trusting in His Grace. All those comments on the endorsement sounded like “clanging cymbals” to me. No fruits of the spirit there. I see some of those Fruits in your writing though. Keep it up!
    – Uncle Brad

  3. Thank you for this lovely blog post. There’s been a lot of hate spewed during this election season, with a lot of it attempting to camouflage itself as righteousness. The Higher Power I believe in is only love, tolerance, and acceptance, and calls upon us to open our minds and hearts every day. It’s good to see other souls digging the same vibe :-)

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