We sometimes willfully and recklessly either insert religion into politics and/or politics into religion, whenever it suits our purpose and often without fully engaging our spiritual wisdom. Thin line between the two? Politics and religion? Maybe. But you can be sure we use that thin line to our advantage anytime we need our personal opinions or narrative bolstered.
How easy is that?
For instance, I can go straight to Scripture and find support for my opinion about COVID-19, in whichever camp I’ve pitched my tent. All I have to do is take any scripture I fancy out of context, and cut and paste it to my narrative. For all of us, (regardless of where our allegiance lies with current events,) remember this scripture: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3
Many a scripture have been indiscriminately attached to opinions on social media. The scripture itself may tremulously prop up the opinion. Sound bites that align themselves to what “their itching ears want to hear.” Nevertheless it has an immediate effect on people, (one way or another). Truthfully, when we do this without first considering the ramifications (of using sacred words to shore up our own disposition,) then we are just shooting arrows with no real idea of where they are landing or who we are wounding.
Absolutely love scripture enough to share scripture. Send it out to others in copious amounts. Make personal application with transparency, so that you can encourage, admonish, and hold each other accountable. (Hebrews 10:23-25) Remind those who need a Savior. (John 3-16-17) Comfort and hope in the fight. (Psalm 23) Lean into it when you or someone you know needs insight, clarity, and reframing. (Philippians 1:9-11) Shine like stars in the universe as you hold firmly to it. (Philippians 2:15-16) But never ever exploit it for personal gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
So the next time you are inclined to back up your personal position with the use of scripture, apply a few measuring sticks first. Simple, but worthy criterion. It’s the least we can do.
1 Who am I trying to impress?
2 What is my end goal?
3 Is the narrative I am relating, replicating, repeating, or regurgitating, one where I should be name dropping Jesus?
4 If this post or statement is an opinion piece, that’s okay, but if that’s the case, and it is an opinion, then should I really get Jesus mixed up in that? (If you say yes, then you need to be prepared to move out from behind your screen and meet up for coffee to discuss.)
5 Is my post or statement more likely to point people (including my children) toward Jesus or away?
6 What do I want my own children to learn from my actions?
Clearly this open letter is drafted for Christians, Jesus followers. Because we don’t expect those who do not proclaim Jesus, to act as if they do. Yay if that happens. But bottom line: as Jesus followers, we have a higher level of accountability. Also this letter offers guidelines for Op-Eds that specifically include scripture or references to Jesus. But that is not to say that as Jesus followers we get a free pass when stating or posting our opinions without attaching scripture to it. Not at all. We are Jesus followers 24/7 right? We should always inject our interactions and all manner of dialogue with grace and integrity. (Colossians 4:4-6) People are watching us. If we look the same as the world around us, then why would the world around us be interested in Jesus?
Maybe as Jesus followers, our time is better spent meeting people on both sides of the issue right where they are – with empathy and respect – than it is using scripture as a bumper sticker to shame them into submission. And unwittingly perhaps, that is often the case when we state an opinion and attach scripture to it. We are using scripture to vouch for us (not Jesus) and to vouch for our opinions (not doctrine). And we do this with harsh authoritarian language.
I can’t imagine a single believer who would not agree that how we use the Word of God is not something to be taken lightly.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Jesus was referring to the Pharisees who had attached many of their own rules as to how Sabbath should be observed. But they missed the point. God said He made sabbath for man, not the other way around. Man doesn’t get to dictate the “rules” for Sabbath. Sometimes I believe we use scripture like that. Scripture, the Word, Jesus, all one and the same (John 1:1) was made for us, sent to us. (John 17:17-18) How so? Scripture “teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It’s not the other way around. We don’t call the shots, or arbitrarily decide its value, or get to use it as a weapon, or simply to amplify our personal position when it’s convenient. It is “God breathed,” not man breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We should remember how sacred scripture is every single time we say it, send it, give it, post it, or attach it.
It’s the least we can do.