To fit in to a group means acceptance, belonging, and community. Every human being desires those things. I’ve always felt that I fit in well with my family and social groups, for which I’m extremely grateful, for those are the people who most affect my emotional security.
However, I increasingly feel like a misfit in larger groups, like political parties or even Christian denominations, in which I once would have claimed membership. So, I’ve been thinking about fitting in, and as Christians we have the opportunity to fit in to the largest, the most diverse and the most accepting group that exists; the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is not represented by any one political party or Christian denomination. It is made up of people from every nation, of all races, speaking every language, and from desperately poor to ridiculously rich. Its borderlines cross every boundary that humans have established.
The more I understand about the kingdom of God, the less worried I am about fitting into one political party or Christian denomination.
Some Christians believe that they should stay away from politics altogether while other Christians serve our country in elected office or are otherwise very involved. God calls everyone uniquely, and I am thankful for Christians who take their call to serve the country seriously.
Timothy Keller, in the recent New York Times editorial, How Do Christians Fit Into the Two Party System? They Don’t, outlines several good reasons why Christians should not identify too closely with either Republicans or Democrats. Their platforms both have policies that I favor, and they both have positions that I oppose. At election time I must consider which candidate will do the most good and the least harm. Sometimes it’s a toss up.
I am unashamedly pro-life, because I believe God values and has a good plan for every human life conceived. I am pro-immigrant, because God’s word consistently urges us to welcome the alien. That means I don’t fit neatly into either party.
Political parties do not operate based on Christian principals. They seek money for their candidates and power for their brand, both of which Jesus rejected when he was on this earth. However, as citizens of a free country in which we have the opportunity to influence and to vote, Christians should use that responsibility thoughtfully. For me, that will mean less fitting into one party and more prayer and discernment before I vote.
I hope that the fact that I fit in less with a political party means that the kingdom of God is a better fit for me.
My husband and I have been members of churches in several denominations and, perhaps as a result, we don’t feel like we fit perfectly in any of them.
We have been faithful members of a Lutheran church, a Presbyterian church, a mega-church, and an Evangelical Free church. They all taught biblical truth; the gospel was clear. However, there were cultural issues and matters of theology over which they disagreed with each other.
Community Bible Study (CBS) was a major contributing factor in my theological development. CBS emphasizes the Bible, stays away from church doctrine, and invites people from any and every church to attend. The CBS statement of faith specifies the beliefs upon which their studies are based, and it in my opinion it covers all the important theology. I became very comfortable with Bible study discussions without any church doctrine making its way into the conversation.
The Bible is God’s communication to people of all backgrounds, cultures, education and intelligence. Many people who read it for the first time are struck by the truth of it, some who have read it hundreds of times can’t believe it and most of us believe the simple truth that Jesus, God incarnate, came to earth, lived among us, and died for our sins so that we can live eternally with him, even if we are scratching our heads over the rough spots.
My theology is no where near 100% correct, but I don’t believe anyone else’s is either. How can two or three intelligent, well studied, and sincere believers in Jesus Christ have wildly different opinions about baptism or the role of women in church leadership or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and yet they all believe that they are absolutely correct? Christians have vigorous discussions over those issues, but in the end they will agree to disagree.
I understand the need for Christian denominations, but maybe the kingdom of God draws its boundaries differently from those defined by denominations.
The Kingdom of God
If we believe what we say we believe, that salvation and entry into the kingdom of God is based on faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing, then it follows that believers can and will have different political views and varied interpretations of the Bible. We should have grace for differences. Approach disagreements humbly. Listen. Pray for wisdom and discernment.
The Bible is true, fascinating, encouraging, and some of it is confusing. It is God’s love story of redemption for clueless and confused people. That would be us.
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Paul put it this way,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Anyone who has come to Jesus is saved by the grace of God. Based on our background and experiences, we may hold different political views. Some of us won’t fit nicely into a denomination. God doesn’t care if we’re clear on who God is, who Jesus is, and we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us to spiritual maturity.
Political parties and Christian denominations are man made creations, and they betray the world’s influence. I don’t fit in as well as I used to, and I hope that means that I fit better into God’s Kingdom.
In what areas do you feel like a misfit?