Expedience is not a Christian spiritual value – Me
There’s an issue that has weighed heavily on me for the last several years, and while I have touched on it here and there, I feel the need to be more direct. Let me say first that I am grateful to those who take the time to read what I write, both those who are Jesus followers as I seek to be, those who have reservations about Him, and those whose belief systems are fundamentally different than mine. I don’t take your interest lightly and appreciate each of you.
That said, I want to be explicit: I love the Church. I believe it is the physical body of Christ in this world for which He gave His life to redeem (repurchase). And to this body, He is the head in all things. Because the Church His body, He cares deeply for the Church and is fully aware of her errors, her flaws, her potential, and is continually seeking her perfection.
The Church offered me a needed lifeline early in my adult life, and I have believed and worked to be part of that lifeline offering to others over the years. I have gotten to know and experience GOD and His community of believers through the Church such that I want more and more of Him and them. I am so grateful that GOD is not stingy; He gives of Himself freely to those who seek after Him. Our relationship continues to deepen even after all these years. The Church has been the facilitator for all of this. I love the Church so much that I hate to see spiritual compromise operating within her.
There is no question that there are many serious, controversial and complex social and political issues at work in our society. They have been present for many years, and I suspect will continue to be present for many more. They have been the catalyst for much division and worse. I say “catalyst” rather than reason because I believe the actual reasons for division (and worse) lies in the heart dispositions of human beings. Sometimes, the rationale for harmful, hurtful, and even hateful treatment has been the perceived moral laxity of others leading to a belief that otherwise questionable attitudes and actions are justified because they serve a greater societal good.
There is nothing particularly new here, it is common to humanity. The problem for me is when the Church adopts this path, treating political expediency as a spiritual value in order to combat moral decline, aligning itself with those whose aims are political power and whose tactics are power politics. And power politics always has targets which are often anyone considered to be an outlier from the majority’s norm.
While some in the Church thinks this kind of alignment strengthens her position to affect moral transformation, I think she is weakened by it in the long-run. Make no mistake; I have huge concerns about what I see as moral decline and even degradation and the spiritual darkness (disguised as enlightened thinking) in which this decline festers. If the Church is going to be faithful to her calling, however, she cannot follow a common path. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).
There is no divine power in the common path and yet too often, I think, our history shows that we keep coming back to it, perhaps because it’s relatively easy and expedient. We keep fighting with the weapons of the world. We keep giving to Caesar what belongs to GOD. We keep seeking power alliances to advance our agendas. We keep placing our bets on utilitarian philosophy (from a spiritual perspective, justifying questionable means for the sake of perceived righteous ends) rather than the historical Christianity we claim to be upholding. And by doing these things, we are proclaiming expedience is a spiritual value. It is not! It never has been. If it were, Jesus would have allowed His followers to fight to prevent His arrest (John 18:36). He did not do that. In fact, Jesus rebuked Peter for his initial attempt to fight for Jesus (John 18:10-11). Paul rebuked the Corinthians for judging those outside the Church, instead saying that those in the Church should judge those on the inside (1 Corinthians 5:12).
The truth is that, throughout history, every time the Church has sought the use of political power to gain social advantage, she was weakened by a distorted witness. Her credibility suffered because she was viewed as just another special interest group among many. The powerful and mystical distinctiveness of Christ, who freely gave grace, compassion and forgiveness, who did not manipulate nor condemn nor curry favor with anyone, and who sacrificed Himself for the sake of others, was clouded by mixed messages and the need to defend against charges of hypocrisy. Are we not seeing some (or much) of that today?
I would love to see changes in the moral fabric of our time. I do believe in a singular objective standard of right and wrong, of sin and righteousness that flows from the wisdom of GOD. What I don’t believe in is in using earthly means to gain heavenly outcomes. As Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). It is not the business of the Church, which belongs to Jesus Christ, to undermine His way, His truth, His life, and to do so in His name.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2021. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.