So, I read something today in a text for my Christian Ethics class that pretty much leaped off the page at me. It was a quote from a church historian named Martin Marty. He said:
"One of the real problems in modern life is that the people who are good at being civil often lack strong convictions, and people who have strong convictions often lack civility."
As I reflect on the state of political discourse in our country with one month until Election Day, I couldn't agree with Mr. Marty more. I don't know about you, but I am quickly tiring of the strong political convictions and associated lack of civility. And I am tired of the endless voice mail messages being left on my phone by the political party I chose to affiliate with when I registered to vote all those years ago. I no longer want to affiliate with any party because there is no party (or politician for that matter) that speaks entirely to me or for me. As I look through the lens of what has become my Christian worldview, they all fall short in one way or another. I said the other day, and right or wrong may very well mean it, "I no longer care who wins the election... I just want it over with."
But back to my friend Mr. Marty because he left me feeling somewhat concerned about what he said. I consider myself to be a fairly civil person. So, does this mean that I lack strong convictions? Is this why I ain't got no dog in this hunt called Election 2012? Am I apathetic because I don't believe in things as passionately as those around me that are firmly entrenched in their political camps?
While I might not share the strong political convictions of many around me, I know that I do believe these words from St. Augustine:
“Christ is not valued at all unless he is valued above all.”
As followers of Jesus we need to remember what Paul told us in Ephesians 4:4-6:
"We are one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to the one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."
This means that if Christ truly is valued above all, then our primary identity and allegiance is to Him alone. So, we are first Christian brothers and sisters, united under the lordship of Jesus Christ, before we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents or even Americans. When we fail to remember this important truth, or its rightful place above all other convictions, we are doomed to coexist in a rather uncivil state of disunity.
Tonight, as I watch my Facebook newsfeed explode with posts from each side of the political spectrum commenting on this first debate of Election 2012, the extent of my political conviction can be summarized in this way: There is no political party or candidate that can claim the ability to save the country when there is only one Savior. His name is Jesus the Christ and He is Lord.