Over Thanksgiving break, I finally got around to reading a book my friend lent me. The cover depicts a silhouette of a man praying under the looming title: HUMILITY. Being thinner than an iPhone, I did not expect the book to be a long read; however, its length was in no way an indicator of the challenges disclosed throughout.
By reading this book, I realized that our difficulty with understanding humility is based in our inability to embody it. Humility is everything that Jesus is and everything we lack. How many times did Jesus turn the crowd’s attention toward the Father rather than himself? How many times did He speak of the Father’s power by which He acted? In how many ways did He surrender to God’s will the night He was crucified?
Often, we are convinced we can know what God thinks—which is laughable. I have found myself falling into this belief. We know how God has commanded us to live generally, but how do we deal with the practical, gritty matters of life that the Bible does not directly address? We want to seek God’s answers; however, it becomes dangerous when we start to think we know for certain what God would do—especially in a political situation. That is not to say we can’t do our best to understand God and seek His wisdom on specific issues. As His children, we must live with His Word governing all our choices, including our political ones. However, we should be wary of claiming to have perfect knowledge on any or all matters of practical life.
As we deal with these practical matters, the ‘tough issues’ not directly addressed in the Bible, we should avoid declaring someone a Christian only if they align with a certain political perspective. We should not assume Jesus would encourage any political group or organization to boast that “God is on our side.” Instead, we should have a discussion on our disagreements, especially as brothers and sisters in Christ. Someone is a Christian if they believe they are saved from the penalty of sin by the blood of Jesus and choose to follow Him (Romans 10:9, Acts 16:31, John 1:12). Salvation itself is not dependent on political perspective.
We should be emboldened to make claims based on our Biblical convictions. We must not be afraid to make a firm stand on the issues of today. We are not called to be cowards; rather, you and I are called to remember that we are children of the living God. We have no wisdom compared to God, who stands ageless through all of time. We could accrue all the political knowledge in the world, read every book on political theory, engage with every angle, but we would still lack the infinite wisdom of God.
Despite our best efforts, our attempt at discerning the will of God will never be flawless–to say otherwise is prideful. We must not bind God to our political ideology, simply claiming God’s allegiance to our cause without moving forward with strong Biblical support for our stance. Many regimes across history have proclaimed to have the support of God, yet were explicitly in conflict with God’s law. There needs to be contextual Biblical support for a claim to be legitimate.
Boasting that “God is on our side” is also manipulative. In Christian political debate, both sides are trying to operate from a higher moral perspective. Conversations between Christians can veer quickly into using God to force the other side to agree with their point of view. God needs to be a part of every belief we have, but we cannot use our limited understanding of God to tell someone that they are not hearing Him correctly—that they are not a Christian or even a good person if they do not take a certain stance. That is manipulation.
We need God to play the largest role in the conversation, but at the same time, we need to learn how to disagree as Christians. We need to learn how to sit across the table from someone who sees the world differently from us and recognize them in the image of God. Believing in Jesus as Savior does not yield one type of person. Christianity is not an aesthetic. It does not create a political monolith. The believers who we politically disagree with are still our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you are conservative, who do you think of when you hear the word ‘liberal?’ Would you be willing to humble yourself and count them as more important than yourself? Would you die for them? If you are on the left, would you do the same for the person that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘conservative?’ Will we be like the Pharisee in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), who looked over at the ‘sinner’ next to him and snuffled, “I thank you [Lord] that I am not as this other man?”
We are desperately short of Jesus’s humility. We need to refer to Him more. We need to surrender ourselves to each other. We need to turn the other cheek and argue respectfully, based on our best efforts at determining God’s will on an issue. We need to avoid manipulating people into feeling like lesser Christians because they do not think exactly like us. God is not a tool to use in an argument. God cannot be mocked (Gal 6:7). God does not fit into ‘our truth.’ God is on God’s side; He is infinitely greater than our limited understanding of Him.
His birth, death, and life is the perfect example of what a life lived in humility looks like. We have so much more to learn; I have so much more to learn. May we always seek out answers with humility. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” “God is on our side” versus “we are on God’s side”: the subtle difference between those two perspectives is the humility aspect–which is everything.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not proport to reflect the opinions or views of the Gordon Review, editorial staff, or its members.