There’s Something Different About Them

Good sermon pastor, thank you. You’re right, the church does need to involve itself more directly with the “affairs of the city and state”. Apolitical churches do lack vitality.

But I wish you had concluded with “To Be Continued” because there is so much more to consider, isn’t there? It seemed like at least a three-parter.

As members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, it would be nice if our mutual effort to be more Christ-like was sufficient for us to quickly and simply come to common agreements about candidates, policy resolutions, and Supreme Court nominees.

But that’s fantastical, “pie in the sky” thinking. Why do I think that? Because there’s one other congregant in our church who I sometimes struggle to discuss politics with. Even though we have similar values and political philosophies, sometimes when we think and feel differently about a specific “affair of the city or state”, we get defensive, even offended to the point where one of us ends up with hurt feelings.

Given our congregation of 250-300 people, multiply the political pitfalls the two of us sometimes succumb to by 125 or 150. Reaching any kind of consensus on the “affairs of the city and state” is so difficult, most churches don’t even try.

I contend it’s impossible to reach any kind of consensus on candidates running for office and on policy issues, even those that directly overlap with Jesus’ example like what to do about homelessness, low-income housing, and taxes.

But that shouldn’t be the goal.* The goal should be to delve ever more deeply into “the affairs of the city and state” knowing that people will come to different conclusions. The goal should be to listen to one another more patiently, to extend more grace to those who think differently, and to maintain caring relations despite differing political philosophies and affiliations. For visitors to conclude, “There’s something different about them. Something compelling.”

The question you left me with is whether we can be an oasis for people who are completely burned out by political partisanship, rancor, and hatred. Can we learn to “do politics” differently, by listening to, empathizing with, and genuinely respecting one another despite our contrasting political philosophies and affiliations? So that we can be an outward looking, positive presence in our community.

I don’t know that answer to that, but I suspect our future depends upon it.

*especially if we want to maintain our tax exempt status

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