"Voting" for unity in diversity

November 5th, 2018

We are just a day away from arguably the most heated and contentious mid-term election in U.S. history. As I scrolled through the Apple newsfeed on my phone a few days ago, headlines ranged from “Trump escalates anti-immigrant attacks” and “Candidates in one competitive California district are enlisting veterans to deliver bitter, personal attacks,” to the chilling “Could America See Another Civil War?” And where is the church showing up in the middle of all of this? A better question might be – is the church of, for and founded by Jesus Christ actually showing up at all?

The people of God’s kingdom are meant to be the visible demonstration of heaven’s redemptive purpose on earth. Through this community of faith, God is creating a Kingdom culture that is markedly different from the political alliances of earthly kingdoms. Jesus’ selection of the original 12 apostles would have appeared to be an unlikely group for the cohesive start of a Kingdom movement. It was truly a unifying work of the Holy Spirit that brought to fruition the missional work of unity in the midst of such diverse political persuasions. 

Matthew was a tax collector in the employment of the oppressive Roman political system when Jesus called him to follow. Tax collectors were very much in league with Rome. Simon the Zealot represented the opposite extreme of the political spectrum. The Zealots saw the Romans as pagans who occupied the Promised Land. They brought with them false gods and unacceptable ways of thinking and living. The Zealots favored armed rebellion against Rome and were not hesitant to resort to terrorist tactics when deemed necessary. It seems strange that Jesus would choose Simon, considering the fact that Jesus taught nonviolence. There were probably no two groups of Jews in Palestine that hated each other more than the tax collectors and the Zealots.

Peter, also named Simon, was one of the most impulsive in the group and subject to fits of rage. Let’s just say he wasn’t reluctant to swing a sword on occasion (Luke 22:49-50).

Judas the betrayer. Why did he do it? When we try to guess someone’s motive, we are on shaky ground. But I would dare to go out on a limb and say it wasn’t about the blood money that he received for his act of treachery. Many people were looking for a political messiah that would overthrow the controlling Roman administration and usher in a new political order of Israelite prosperity (restoration of the Davidic Kingdom). Judas couldn’t accept what appeared to be Jesus’ subservience and apparent defeat at the hands of oppressive Roman dominance. Judas made the same mistake that any in the church do today. Judas allowed his political ideology to become the determiner of his biblical theology.

As followers of Jesus, we represent an alternative party, the party of the kingdom of God. As Jesus’ disciples we must be moving forward in the Spirit of Pentecost, tearing down the demeaning barriers that divide and destroy. How can we find our way forward in demonstrating unity without the expectation of uniformity? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on all that God has created! I want to join all of my politically, socioeconomically and ethnically diverse neighbors at the Kingdom’s open table.

Sisters and brothers, by all means let’s exercise our American right to vote on Tuesday. But, first let’s pray and fast — and then vote with the mind, peace and unity of Christ.

Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus and global church ambassador for Ginghamsburg Church, served for nearly four decades as the lead pastor and chief dreamer of Ginghamsburg and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike is also the founder and chief strategist of Passionate Churches, LLC, which specializes in developing pastors, church staff and church lay leaders through coaching, training, consulting and facilitation services. Mike’s call to “afflict the comfortable” challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. Mike’s newest book is Made for a Miracle: From Your Ordinary to God’s Extraordinary (Abingdon Press). For more content like this blog, read Hijacked (Abingdon Press).

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