Every once in a while I like to play with some thought experiments. Today is one of those days. Play along with me, won’t you?
What if pastors all became non-partisans? What if they detached themselves from the political parties of the country? No more being tapped by candidates for office to be part of their Evangelical outreach campaign? No more being tapped by candidates for office to be part of their Mainline Protestant outreach campaign?
What if pastors just stopped listening and buying the rhetoric of either political party?
That might be easy to play with, poke holes in, etc. Here’s a better one. One that I can imagine will raise plenty of criticisms and objections.
What if all Christians became non-partisans? Whoa. Hold the phones a minute. Did I just suggest something that many would think is unthinkable? What if we collectively decided that partisan politics focused too much attention on asking “Who is my neighbor?” Who is on my side and who is on the other side? Who is with us and who is against us? You know – us vs. them. What if Christians actually took what Jesus was saying in the Good Samaritan parable seriously and started being neighbors to those they disagree with (and maybe even hate) and those that they have been told are their enemies? What if? I wonder how politics would change. I wonder how lives would change?
Let me clarify something because I can hear the wails and gnashing of teeth over these questions – I’m asking about party affiliation, not removing oneself from politics completely. Those are two different things.
I wonder, maybe the thought experiment is reversed in it’s thinking. I wonder, if Christians started being neighbors the way that Jesus calls us to be, would they leave partisan politics behind? Not reject it, but see it as worthless maybe? Or just not that important anymore? Maybe not. Would they see the message of partisan politics as a message of division and scapegoating? Maybe being a neighbor would have more of an impact on how the nation and the world changed than worrying about which candidate won, what they were saying, who they were blaming, and who would “save” the nation.
Maybe. I don’t know. Or maybe I’m not being realistic here because this is the way it’s always been. Except it hasn’t. That’s the fun of playing with a thought experiment – you can come up with crazy ideas and play with them.
What if Christians took Jesus’ message seriously enough to actually believe that it is a life changing and world changing message? I mean really bought into the idea – hook, line, and sinker – not just mouthed the words on Sunday in church. I’m talking about about buying the message enough that your life is changed and so you change what you do, how you talk, how you act, etc. I wonder what would happen if we spent as much time thinking about, tweeting, posting memes on social media, having discussions, debates, etc. about what Jesus said as we do with what the candidates say? What would that look like? What would our nation look like? What would world look like? I don’t know. It’s never been tried before. Could be better. Could be worse I guess. Might be just the same.
I wonder if Christians just stopped buying the empty partisan rhetoric that claims that a person in a specific office will bring salvation (or peace, or prosperity, or security, etc.) by destroying our enemies. I wonder what it would look like and sound like if Christians just stopped believing the scapegoating rhetoric that partisan candidates and loyalists use. I wonder what it would look like and sound like if Christians spent as much time, energy, effort, and money living out what Jesus called us to, rather than trying to get someone elected to office.