Civil Discourse and the Way of Jesus

Last week I had the wonderful privilege of talking with a group of students who are part of an mutlifaith fellowship at a university in the northeast.  Their leader, a friend I’ve known for several years, reached out to plan the conference call. The only problem was that I was teaching a class at Cedarville during the time they requested, so we just allowed my class to listen in. It was a lot of fun.

The students all came from various backgrounds. According to their website, among their leadership team are those who identify themselves as “a liberal woman of color”, a “gay Catholic”, and other categories that could be well described as secular and skeptical. They were polite and respectful. We had a really good conversation. It was good for my class to listen in as well. I want them to know conversations like these are possible without compromise from either side.

One student asked me about what he perceived to be a diminishing of responsibility and activity in this world, since Christians are waiting for their treasure in heaven. My response was that the way of Jesus is not to grab for power and treasure in this world. But this doesn’t mean we take a lower view of what we do in this world, rather the opposite. Because there is an accountable beyond this world, the Christian should be all the more faithful and responsible in how they live.

I’m confident they didn’t agree with all, or even much, of what I had to say. But I do know they were surprised with my response when they asked me about politics. I referred back to my response about the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus isn’t a power play or empire building. Jesus humbled himself to the point of death for the glory of the Father and the good of humanity. The way of Jesus, communicated by the apostles, is to follow in the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21).

Maybe that’s a good reminder for all of us today. The Kingdom of God will not be brought in through a ballot box or in a political appointment. It comes through our declaration of the gospel and our demonstration of our love for God and love for neighbors. They should know us by our love, not our party, for our compassion not our candidate. Christians above all people, should be civil in our discourse because we are following in the way of Jesus.