Many of the events that have unfolded in our nation over the past couple of years have left me feeling caught in the middle of a raging culture war. From protecting Chick-fil-A, to excommunicating Phil Robertson from his own TV show, to the recent Starbucks cup uproar, I watch as social media functions as a boxing ring for an insecure and broken nation to slam each other to the ground.
I struggle to understand what to think about it all. I see two sides who are hell-bent on convincing the other side to agree with them, and condemning the other side for being wrong. And then there are those that get angry at the two sides for not being more like Jesus. And then there are those that don’t want to get involved at all and so they stay off of the social media and bury their heads in the sand. And there are those who see all these sides and don’t know what to say and so they say nothing at all and wonder if that’s really what they’re supposed to do. (That would be me.)
I know Jesus said it is better for him to leave so that we could have the Holy Spirit to guide and shape and comfort and teach us, but it’s times like these that I just wish Jesus was here in skin and bones and I could sit with him over a cup of coffee and pick his brain on the topic. I wish I could see for myself the love in his eyes and the joy on his face and the wisdom in his heart and the kindness in his voice. I wish I didn’t have to wonder what he really thinks about it all.
One might say, “Well isn’t that what the Bible is for?” Yes, the Bible is God’s thoughts and desires and intentions for us. But the Bible also says that we see things dimly. No one sees the whole picture. (Which is why we need each other. Paul writes about that in the middle of his spiel on spiritual gifts.) And one day, Jesus will come back and everything that was hidden will be revealed. And there will be no question of who he is or what is true. We will see his glory. How I long for that day.
Jesus tells us to be unoffendable and to be relentlessly kind to people and to always honor the value of every human life because he does those things too. But what words would Jesus actually offer to the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples? What would Jesus really do if he stepped on an elevator with Caitlyn Jenner? Jesus continues to live his life through those who follow him. But would Jesus in me say or do the exact same thing as Jesus in you in any given situation? Is there really a right and wrong way to love Caitlyn Jenner?
Jesus says he is the Truth. Which is a really radical thing to say. And an even more radical thing to believe. Because it means that his opinions aren’t just opinions. His opinion is reality. If he thinks you are funny, then you are funny. If he thinks the Church is beautiful, then the Church is beautiful. His opinions are not subjective. And if I claim to follow Jesus, then that means that I am to let his opinions define my life. If he doesn’t get his panties in a wad about Starbucks cups, then I won’t either. If Jesus is passionate that all red Starbucks cups should have snowflakes on them, then give me a picket sign and a megaphone.
These events have spun me on a journey of seeking his heart on a deeper level. I’m discovering that though I don’t really want to join any of the sides I see, Jesus calls us to engage with our culture. To be agents of love. To be light in the darkness. The scary thing is that everyone seems to think they are the ones that are doing it right. Many sides have taken a stance and believe Jesus to be on their side. I just want to know what Jesus thinks. Because whatever he thinks, I want to be on his side.
Does Jesus even have a side?!