Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Truth In Love

Honest and loving discourse is an art form that is rare and virtually non-existent in political discussions. It is all too common to reduce political discussions to rants, tirades and gross misrepresentations that seek to relegate the promoter of an opposing view as not merely irrelevant, but almost as not truly human. This kind of poisonous posturing can be much more destructive than beneficial and can ultimately damage the mindset of our posterity who are the most precious carriers of the values we seek to promote and hold most sacred.

Early this morning, a close friend posted an interview that comedian and emerging political commentator D.L. Hughley held with Franky Schaeffer - a born-again Christian activist and the son of the Legendary Christian Thinker Francis Schaeffer. In the interview with Hughley, Franky Schaeffer skewers the "religious right" and levels undiluted criticism at the leadership of the movement as unthinking, self-absorbed and fundamentally unworthy of followership. He then explains that as a result his dissatisfaction with the "religious right movement" he has"changed sides" and though he continues to walk the walk of faith in Jesus Christ, he has given his political allegiance to what he considers a more worthy and righteous movement. It is at this point that I depart somewhat with my Christian Brother's perspective and ask him to reconsider if he has merely traded one non-critical and naive political/philosophical allegiance and perspective for another.

My behind the scenes observations have been that with woefully few exceptions, politicians may have different platforms, but regardless of political affiliation too many politicians are fueled by raw, unmitigated ambition. I have come to believe that neither "side' is more sincere or purer than the other at its core. There are exceptions, but I believe the one very powerful and painfully descriptive run that Schaeffer made about the faults of leadership on the right could equally apply to the faulty nature of leadership on the left.

Am I advocating a cessation of Christan participation in the American political process? Absolutely not! Nonetheless, it is my conviction that Christians should rather speak Biblical truth to all political perspectives with humble and prophetic intensity rather than putting their faith in human labels which may or may not be sanctified in their or gin or purpose. I believe that regardless of person's political label, and I am especially and particularly addressing Christians in this instance, speaking the "truth in love" to every identifiable political and philosophical perspective remains at the core of our Gospel message. Scripture directs us to "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8). What is more loving at its core than truthfully engaging our world in the issues of our day with passion and compassion as we seek the greater glory of God? This kind of engagement calls us to more than "side switching" and mandates that we do the painstaking work of encountering people on a heart to heart level rather than lobbing assaults from afar based on lazy labels.

I believe I have seen an excellent example of this type of engagement in an unsuccessful Presidential Candidate named Mike Huckabee. Former Governor Huckabee has a TV talk show which is rather unique. He invites individuals he believes have made a difference in some element of culture or life, regardless of background or label to take part in a conversation and to discuss what they believe, why they believe it and how we can work together to accomplish great things. He then does something I have not ever seen on a talk show. He puts his guest in control and asks them to ask him any question they want - ANYTHING! The questions tend to gravitate towards the toughest issue possible, often a point of disagreement between Mr. Huckabee ad his guest. In a recent installment of the show, he endorses the book When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win by Carol Leifer. Ms. Leifer is an award winning writer whose writing credits and accolades could fill a book. Mr. Huckabee was touched by the tone and wisdom of her book and took great care in promoting its message and giving it a high thumbs up. The interview progressed flawlessly with easy laughter and good natured sharing abounding. Then, Mr. Huckabee did something that seemed strange. He put himself on the hot seat and Ms. Leifer in control of the thermostat. He told her she could ask him any 3 questions she desired. when she asked the questions, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. She asked in a straightforward and even-toned manner why Mr. Huckabee didn't feel she and her partner had the right to marry as lesbians and why he didn't feel it was right for them to adopt as parents? On any other show, this might have opened the gates for a tsunami of fire of Biblical proportions. What ensued what exactly the opposite. Mr. Huckabee showed the utmost respect for Ms. Leifer's opinions, while very gently, respectfully and carefully outlining why he held to a Biblical definition of marriage and family, never once personally attacking her or her position - just stating the merits of his case. . Her last question showed her own graciousness as she asked him to name his favorite Beatles song! Many eyes moistened at the tender sharing of Biblical truth and the honest exchange of viewpoints, including Ms. Leifer's. Mr. Huckabee ended the set with another ringing endorsement of Ms. Leifer's book and a serious jam session on his bass guitar!

The truth in love. A radical concept and a Biblical call that is extended to all Christians. This week, we celebrate the triumphant victory of the One Who not only told the truth, but Who claimed to BE the Truth and Who backed His claims up by dying for us though we are unworthy and raising Himself up to life that we might know Him as the Truth and be set free from our bondage to sin and death. I challenge you to make a commitment today to devote yourself not to a political party or philosophy, but to give your life to The Truth. Jesus does not disappoint or discriminate, but rather loves without reservation or discrimination. As you remember His death and celebrate His resurrection this week, dedicate yourself once again to sharing His Truth in His love and witness the tearing down of walls and the changing of lives. It's a much more fulfilling and effective enterprise than any political affiliation I know of. Until next time...



Robin Haines Merrill said...

thanks for your writing sam.
im a big huckabee fan.
keep at it---

wilma said...

Once again you do a beautiful job of writing about a hard thing "The Truth In Love". As Christians we have to learn to speak truth without condemnation. You hit a home run with this post.