If you haven’t noticed lately, evangelical Christians like to draw boundaries on things and then remind others of when they are or are not within their boundaries. I’m one of them and I do the same. However, we need to be sure we define the boundaries wisely, and that Jesus stays in view.
I mentioned Sunday that I do not always give my stance on issues. That is not to say that I do not have them, but that I do not give them. There is a difference between having a stance and regularly promoting that stance. At times I remain vague on things (even if I may agree with the person who wants to know my stance), and it is not just to be a jerk (I promise!). A few reasons. . .
- Issues Relate—If I believe in six literal days of Creation, then I also believe the age of the earth is 6,000, think Richard Dawkins is a complete tool, that belly buttons have always existed (probably innies, if I’m guessing), that Noah’s Ark is somewhere in a mountain for us to discover, that any mention of any type of the word “evolution” is worth being executed over, and probably other things. If I believe in the day-age theory, I suddenly find the Bible an unreliable document pieced together by a bunch of people years after they were written and may as well start ordaining horses to do weddings. When people ask how you view one thing, it has its tentacles in many other things. That’s how worldviews work. If I feel like the related issues are not issues I want to tackle, I may sit quietly.
- Tribalism Runs Rampant—It seems abundantly important for people to know a stance so they know if you can be trusted. For example, I’ve learned not to mention who I vote for (most of the time). If I vote Republican, then I become safe and whatever I teach about Jesus is OK—at least at my church. If I vote Democrat, then I belong in hell and people wonder if I mean “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty. . .” when I say it. I’m a registered voter, and I have no party affiliation. My friend who works on campaigns looked me up one time because he thought I had to declare a party in Louisiana. Nope. However, I do vote and I seek to vote in an informed manner. And I’m not straight ticket anything.
- Secondary Issues Become Primary—I cannot recall a time I have been seriously questioned on why I believe in the resurrection, that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, that the Holy Spirit is real, the God created this world and everything in it. Newsflash: I believe that a man named Jesus was born to a virgin woman 2000 years ago and came and bore the sins of the world, was murdered for it, rose from the dead, and is still alive today—calling people to turn from their sins and believe in him. He will come back and destroy this world and create a new one where those who have faith in him live forever with new bodies. I believe that and would die for that. I’ve never been pinned down on that one. Seems like it isn’t as important . . . but that’s what people are being murdered for in Iraq and Syria right now. They are losing their lives for the Jesus. I want that Jesus.
If someone catches me after a sermon and says “what do you believe about X?” I will usually tell them. However, that question can sometimes be a veiled attempt at “Do you agree with me?” or “Help me win this argument.” I don’t want to play that game. There’s too much to lose.
I want to play the game where real lives are on the line and eternity is at stake. And I believe our church does, too.