I was recently at a local market, and a middle school student approached me selling some items for a school fundraiser. I noticed her school is a private Christian school, and so I inquired as to where it is located. The adults that were accompanying the young lady then proceeded to provide me with the school’s information and say, “Our school is here so that you can get your kids out of the public school system,” and “If your kids come to our school, they do not have to be vaccinated for COVID.”
I thanked the gentlemen for the information, and as I returned to my car, reflected on how odd the interaction was to me. These brothers in Christ had an opportunity to share with me about their children’s school, and instead of mentioning Christian values, or even Jesus himself, they assumed I was looking for a safe haven for my kids from the public school system and vaccine mandates.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have opinions and concerns regarding the public school system and curriculum here in California, and I also have opinions regarding vaccine mandates for kids and adults. The thing is, neither of these would be deciding factors when considering a school for my kids.
Why is that?
Simply put, neither of these issues is definitely Christian, or in and of themselves should be issues that Christians unite around.
There are some Christians who homeschool, there are some who send their kids to private school, and there are others who send their kids to public school. I have met families in all three scenarios who have sought the Lord earnestly regarding the path they chose, and are walking that path in the conviction it is the way the Lord has called them to disciple their family and be a light for Christ in their community.
In the same way, there are Christians who have had their children vaccinated for COVID, and others who have not. Again, I know many Christians of varying opinions who have sought the Lord regarding this decision and are sure of their conviction.
It is good for people to have opinions regarding these issues, but a problem arises when we start to say that a specific opinion or conviction regarding these issues is the Christian one.
Many churches, Christian schools, and other Christian organizations have already been going down this dangerous path for a few years now. Instead of uniting around Christ, we unite around a shared political ideal, a shared conviction regarding masks and vaccine mandates, a particular political candidate, a particular cause, or something else.
The thing is, what unites us, if it is anything but Christ, will eventually tear us apart.
I fear we now have churches and other Christian organizations growing simply because of their politics, and the divisions in the American Christian church we have witnessed in recent years will only grow deeper before they improve.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not spend the majority of His ministry campaigning for women’s rights, or maybe trying to abolish slavery in His day? There were many social issues and injustices that Jesus could have chosen to unite people around. Instead, when He started His ministry He declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) He then spent three years teaching and demonstrating what the kingdom of heaven looked like. He told parables to illustrate the kingdom of heaven in relatable terms. He demonstrated and taught how His followers (citizens of heaven) will act (Matthew 5-7). Yes, He addressed social issues, and subverted social norms, but this was not the focus of His ministry and it was not what His followers united around.
In a future blog post I would like to expand on this concept further, but for now, I want to encourage you to at least consider how different Jesus’ ministry would have looked if He had focused on championing a cause, instead of bringing the kingdom.
As followers of Jesus, Christians are not called to unite around a cause, but to bring the kingdom of God.
If we are honest, it is much easier to focus our energies on a cause instead of the kingdom. This is why my Christian brothers who shared about their children’s school mentioned political topics instead of Christ. It is easier to talk about politics, or our frustrations with the public school system, or maybe how we dislike vaccine mandates; after all, these topics do not require self-reflection, personal repentance, or change.
It is much harder to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). Why? Because the process begins with each one of us. If we are earnestly seeking the Kingdom of God, we cannot point the finger at others, but have to first seek God’s kingdom in our lives, in our homes, and in our community.
Yet Christ calls us to the harder path. Christ calls us to unite around Him. Christ calls us to repent of our idolatries, repent of our politics, repent of our other worldly efforts, and simply seek Him (John 14:6) and the kingdom of God.
If we really want to see our culture change, if we really want to fight for a cause; it is in seeking the kingdom of God that we will see real change, it will begin in each of us, and God will be glorified in all of it.