Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Religious Right, Left Meet in Middle

The Rev. Rob Schenck is an evangelical Christian and a leader of the religious right. Rabbi David Saperstein is a Reform Jew and a leader of the religious left. Both head political advocacy groups in Washington, and they have battled for years over abortion, gay rights, stem cell research and school prayer.

This summer, each intends to preach a bit of the other's usual message.
(the rest here)

While cynics point out that this is mere political posturing, I appreciate the effort. This is much more in line with Jesus’ teaching then, say, this guy.

Of course, I do think there is a place for faith within politics. But I think faith is to influence with the broader themes of the biblical story: compassion, servanthood, self-giving, suffering love. Too often, Christians jump into the public arena to demand religious rights above all other rights, to defend privilege, or to insist that government adopt the church's agenda.

We Christians are becoming known not by our love, but by our opposition to gay marriage, abortion (in the USA, add stem-cell research to the list) and by conservative political leanings. Christians are seen as shrill, angry, and autocratic.

How does this advance the cause of Christ?

In a world starving for good news, a word from God, unconditional love, the church too often heaps judgment upon judgment, pushing people further away from the love that God has for them. The church’s central message - salvation through Jesus- is lost in the political muddle.

Maybe its time for a politics of compassion, a politics of quiet servanthood and gentle caring. These are not sexy words or grand themes, but I think they more deeply reflect the one who came to serve and not be served, who came to die so that we might have life.

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