A new self righteousness
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably figured out that I’ve been going through a moral/spiritual/theological overhaul within the past two years that has turned my world upside down and caused me to question nearly all of my philosophical presuppositions. One of the truths I’ve discovered is that Christians must not align themselves to closely with a political agenda. For many that may be an absolute duh…. statement, but for others, the idea that Jesus is neither an American nor a Republican is absolutely earth shaking.
Now that I know that Christianity (especially charismatic Christianity) can not be equated with conservative politics, I have to admit that my mind is a lot freer to think beyond the traditional Christian right moral issues of abortion and gay marriage as the sole issues of concern. As I read the Biblical prophets, I now see that the issue of poverty and the economic structures that create them are exponentially high on the list of, should I say, God’s social agenda. When I read Jesus (and His brother James who mimicked Jesus’ social concern) I am haunted by the idea that, in the end, Jesus is going to be throwing people into hell because of what they did not do to “the least of these my brethren.” Bottom line: whether you are a conservative or a liberal, what you do for or against the poor really matters to God. This is a truth that I have discovered and it’s a truth I believe needs to be addressed in a major way, especially in Bible-Believing theologically coservative churches.
But there’s a problem. The problem is that, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13(and I’m paraphrasing here) “I can sell all my possessions and give my body to be burned alive, but if I don ‘t have love, it’s all worthless.” A social gospel can very easily turn into a “I’m good enough to get into heaven on my own gospel” and that is where the cross screams the loudest “No you can’t!” I realize that I can dish out food at a homeless shelter and advocate for global poverty (things that I currently do)-and still have a dirty heart at the end of the day. How easy it is to trade one form of self-righteousness for another.
I think we all need to be reminded from time to time just how much we fall short of God’s righteouss standards no matter how hard we try. I think the Apostle Paul had it right when he said, “I’m the chief of sinners.” Notice he didn’t say I was the chief of sinners. He said I am the chief of sinners. If we as Christians are going to be speaking out on moral issues, we need to do so as self-professed moral failures. Any other attitude misses God’s kingdom from the distance of the head to the heart-no matter what side of the political aisle we find ourselves on.