This last week was like Easter and Christmas in the hallowed halls of political church. It was a time when a lot of backslidden partisans come back to their favorite pew to sing the same songs they sang the last time they came in. Some, those who bury their noses every day into the New York Times or tape earbuds of Rush Limbaugh’s latest and greatest to their ears, looked at all of the occasionally interested people the same way that snooty Christians look at the twice annual attendees in church.
The damage, it appears, has been done, and barring some last minute Hail Mary pass from democrat senators, this whole kabuki theatrical production of “How to destroy a man as he applies for his last job” will see the curtain fall today.
Then we’ll see the talk show hosts endlessly pick this apart for roughly one more month until midterms get done.
And then we’re all just people again.
Can I address something that we need to work on, though? While the iron within us is still heated to the point that we are emotional, as well as malleable?
Can we address something within the community of people who live by faith?
Do we have permission to love each other and disagree?
I have watched two women this past week take to social media and pour their hearts out potently and fully over the issues that have surrounded the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Their impassioned pleas for his nomination to be held have been very well spoken, backed by experience of their near shared generational knowledge of the culture of the time, and made wonderful by the level head with which they present their thoughts.
I think my favorite part about reading through the discussions they host is that they are patient.
I think, politically speaking, these two ladies and I might agree that it’s a good idea to vote.
That’s about it.
I also know that both of them are women who love people strongly because their hearts are made new from a big love that saved them. I know that both of these women would give the entire world to ease the suffering of people who are under the feet of oppression. I know that both of these ladies will love people in the midst of argumentation.
I also know that people have doubted the veracity of their faith.
One of them has a son who has examined much of life through his parents’ mindsets and he will passionately disclose a similar viewpoint with the same compassion as his parents. I witnessed and intervened in a moment when that boy was bullied by other kids who, while spouting their parents’ political leanings, made him feel isolated and small.
And that leads me to a command from the heart of God through his servant Paul.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Phil 2:1-2
It is a wonderfully stated command. It starts off with a conditional clause “if.”
If in the course of being saved by the blood of Jesus Christ you are encouraged, comforted by love, engaged by God, equipped by Him, loved by Him and through him…
In other words, if your salvation is so real that it makes you new and full of the joy of love…
Make me happy by obeying a simple command.
Be of the same mind.
Bear the same love.
Work in full accord.
The difficulty in this command is interpretation. We worry about individuality, especially in America. We want individuality, unless of course someone is looking for someone to blame for something that went wrong.
At that point in time you do NOT want to stick out. The head pastor of my church actually punctuates this truth whenever he calls out big sin issues with the follow up phrase, “as the room goes silent…”
However, we interpret the same mind and full accord issues wrongly.
I went back and looked at this the first time I really dove into Philippians. When Paul wrote about the same mind, what he was writing about was not just what we think, but what it motivates us to do. The funny thing about the language then was that your stance held a consequence.
So twice, Paul tells his people to be of the same mind.
Once he tells them to be of one accord, more accurately stated “one soul.”
Once he tells them to be of one heart, their motivating love.
First of all, you see here the unity of heart, mind, and soul. The entirety of a person united in the forward momentum of actual work, the strength. You know, the thing with which Jesus said to love Him.
And strangely enough when that machinery gets rolling, it goes into the path of people, the second half of the command, to love each other.
So if we are commanded to be of one mind, it is not a natural state of existence into which we are compelled. Instead, we must submit ourselves to God that He make our minds into the minds they were created to become. I wrote about that process here whereby our minds are made new, we are transformed, and we are empowered to potently worship God in that new existence.
That means, if we are to become of new and united minds that God, underline God, bold italic underline GOD is responsible for changing our minds on new neural pathways and logical conclusions.
I am not responsible for changing my friends’ minds and failing their conversion declaring their salvation null and void. My friends are not responsible for changing my mind to their side of the political aisle and failing that removing themselves from consideration of the spiritual truths that I spit.
Our mutual duty is to find common ground in the thoughts, affections, and missions which through their execution worship God.
Shouting at each other on facebook about someone we haven’t known before two months ago and will take little note of for the rest of our lives is soooooo faaaaaar awaaaaay from worship as to be nearly comical if it were not so doggone tragic.
We can agree, in this case, as the cases begin to close on Kavanaugh that we must more potently seek to heal the victims of sexual assault. We must create an environment that fosters immediate action to investigate allegations. We must create healing environments for people whose lives are torn. We must teach our sons how to respect women in their hearts, (see Jesus on the standard for adultery) and all people at the level of the soul (see Jesus on the standard for murder.)
Strangely enough, the person with whom I disagree on these points will join me in this effort and the world will become better.
And Paul, whoever he is to you, be it a youth pastor, senior deacon, mentor of the faith and spitter of the truth will truly find his joy complete.
So as the pews of the first church of the left and right wing are being cleaned and we settle back into our politically backsliding lives, let’s be better.