There's a saying that goes something like this, "It's better to keep your mouth closed and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt." I was thinking about that this morning. As you can see from my blog, I asked some open questions of Progressive Christians. I only got one responder who professes to be a "Progressive" Christian, or at least I think he does, and that got me to meditating on the way a Christian should "walk the walk" and "talk the talk."
It isn't my intention to direct this at Progressive Christians or Conservative Christians, but just simple Christians. I've received a few insights regarding judging my brothers and sisters in Christ by their politics. One of those insights is that I shouldn't spend my time looking for reasons to argue with Progressive Christians about their political beliefs. Sure, I still disagree with them, but I think it is very difficult, not impossible, but difficult, to talk politics with someone who so strongly disagrees with my own politics and retain the level of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control which would be pleasing to God. I think it is enough to disagree with at least a portion of their political causes and cures.
Discussing these issues with Progressive Christians did "pay off" for me, because it reaffirmed something I knew all along but might not have realized that I knew. I know, for instance, that my good friends, Ted and Donna, are members of The Church of Christ and I know that they pray in the Spirit, that they speak in tongues, and I have no problem with that, speaking in tongues is, in fact, scriptural under specific guidelines. The point is, that when Ted and Donna are visiting, we don't discuss those things upon which we disagree, we talk about those things which we agree upon. In the faith I practice I believe that we are given our portion of the Holy Spirit the moment we have received God's saving grace through Jesus Christ. Ted and Donna believe that they receive their portion of the Holy Spirit at a later date and that the evidence of that Holy Spirit's indwelling is demonstrated by the gift of speaking in tongues. I don't have to agree with them or quibble with them over that point in order to feel the presence of God in the room when they are with me. I don't have to agree with them on that point before I embrace them. Neither do I have to agree with Progressive Christians' politics before I can embrace them.
I feel that there is ample evidence provided in scripture, however, that a Christian should be transparent in his or her dealings with the world. People should see a difference in the way we treat others, they should see that fruit of the Spirit evidenced in our lives, that love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control should set us apart from the rest of the world. These "fruits" should cause the world to view us as the aliens we are for we do not belong to this world.
In reading the writings of " religious" people we often see platitudes stated, we hear them talk about blessings, about the love of Christ, about trust and faith, but to the non-believer these phrases mean nothing because they have not yet experienced the awesome joy that comes with the acceptance of Christ as Savior, they cannot identify with what it means to be full of a joy, so deep in our hearts, that no matter what dire circumstances befall us we are still happy at heart. They cannot know that no matter what happens in our life that God will use that circumstance to make us stronger through His awesome power. No one can know the love of God until they have experienced that transcendental moment in which the reigns of one's life are handed over to an all powerful God, or the comfort that comes with knowing and accepting the offering of Christ to take our sins upon his shoulders and cleanse us from all those awful things for which we carried guilt year upon year. That is why it is important that we do share those personal stories. That we do show the "world" what Christ has done for us and that no matter what happens in our lives we can survive it and learn from it because of what Christ has done for us and continues to do in our lives every second of every day.
I may have made some enemies while having discussions about theology and the political aspirations of Progressive Christians, I cannot say what is in the hearts of others, I can say what is in my heart, the acceptance that is there for them, the understanding that when others have been short or accusatory with me that they are simple, imperfect human beings just as I am a simple, imperfect human being. We all struggle with that "self-control" from time to time.
So, what will it be? Platitudes or Beatitudes? In order for us to experience the beatitudes we are required to speak out, no one can persecute us for our beliefs if they do not know what our beliefs are and God cannot bless us, as He promised, if we do not speak out for Him.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:3-12.
I am sure that some could argue that I persecuted Progressive Christians in my discussions with them. I would argue that I questioned them and stated my own beliefs and convictions. I have to wonder when asking questions of another or stating one's own beliefs and convictions became an aggressive or hostile act? Perhaps the action of thinking about a question in order to provide an answer might cause some to feel, personally, persecuted. Everyone has to deal with their own questions, come to their own conclusions and I think God leads and guides us as to what those questions should be, what we should be meditating upon, what information we are prepared, mentally, to receive from Him. Sometimes God does use others in our lives, though. I can't presume to know why I happened to receive a sample newspaper on that Saturday which provided the website of IAACT, or why that Sunday morning the Pastor of my Church mentioned it, causing me to come home and look at the article, finding the link to IAACT, but I don't think that there are accidental meetings in this world. It could have been that God wanted me to learn from those at IAACT instead of them learning from me, I certainly did learn something from my encounter with them.
We are all at different points on a path, some people behind us, some people before us, I seriously doubt there is any fellow Christian walking next to us on that path, I suppose that is Jesus' place.
One of the things I have disliked all along is the linking of "Progressive" and "Conservative" to Christianity. In light of that dislike and to be true to my own convictions I will no longer be intertwining Christianity with politics. Politics is one thing, Christianity is another.
In any case, true to form, I suppose I'll keep opening my mouth and removing all doubt of my stupidity.
God bless all who read my blog.