David French typically hits it out of the park for me when I read his analysis of faith and culture. This week’s column was out of the park, the parking lot, the whole place. And it’s not because I simply agree. It hit home as well.
Confession. I don’t like MAGA people. I’ve dealt with conspiracy theorists in my life and people of extreme political persuasions and somehow I’ve found a way to navigate the extreme and find a place to settle and like people. MAGA people have challenged me. And David French’s column truly convicted me.
We live in a toxic culture and I allowed that toxicity to affect me. I hope I am coming out of it, but I struggle. Following Jesus’s commandment to truly love one another is deep in my heart and is simply challenged the greatest by this new wave of toxic Christianity and toxic political conservatism (which I will contend is NOT conservatism at all).
The longer I live the more convinced I am that our Christian political ethic is upside down. On a bipartisan basis, the church has formed its members to be adamant about policies that are difficult and contingent and flexible about virtues that are clear and mandatory.
French gives the above analysis. We have become far more intense about our political stances and let go of so many clear virtues and seeing it has left me angry.
French refers to the tensions of Micah 6:8 and then gives a great conclusion: when we want our version of justice, we will sacrifice the rest of that verse. We will forget to walk humbly. We will forego trying to wrestle together over possible solutions.
We just simply have to have OUR way when it comes to OUR ONE THING. And it was somewhere in here I broke. Truly. I had tears. My voice choked as I read it.
I have such a hard time listening to MAGA people. I let social media dictate my emotions. French wasn’t speaking to MAGA people… he was speaking to ME. I want conservative Christians to “straighten up and fly right” because that is my tribe (loosely speaking these days). I have anger instead of steadiness. I lack humility. I lack a listening ear.
We all need to get back to the hard places. A hard place is to recognize that finding a way to justice is NOT easy. We don’t just build more prisons. We don’t just defund the police. We have to talk to each other!
It turns out that since justice is often hard to achieve, we often need humility to understand all the complexities, and kindness maintains the relationships that are indispensable to an exchange of ideas. Block out half of America, for example, and you’re going to lose access to the relationships and knowledge that enrich your understanding even of the issues that you care about the most.
I’m not all about trying to find solutions in justice, but I AM about finding ways to talk better about race, racism, and finer points of certain areas of justice. I AM about finding ways to LISTEN to people… and I, quite frankly, need more humility.
French admits he has turned his vision in a slightly different way when he reads Scripture:
In recent years I’ve taken to rereading scripture through a specific lens—understanding that all of scripture was written to a community of believers that enjoys a fraction of the wealth and power we take for granted today, and that the entire New Testament was written to a church that had no meaningful political voice and endured violent religious persecution.
I have learned this over the years… and it seems I need to learn it all over again. I also need to be bold enough to remind people around me that this is a GOOD way to look at Scriptures.
This piece truly crushed me in a new way. A good way.
My I strive for justice in a way Tim Keller has described: biblical justice is characterized by radical generosity, universal equality, “life-changing advocacy for the poor,” and corporate and individual responsibility.
Hear my prayer, O Lord