On a personal level, 2014 was a fun and challenging year. Fun with new experiences, trips with my family (including down under to Australia in July with my oldest daughter), and moving to a new house that we just love. God was very kind to us.
I also learned a lot about things like habits and virtues, trust and leadership, and finding peace in confusion. As I said, God was very kind to us.
Now on a cultural level, it was a loaded year too. We saw how fragile our society is, and how old wounds can quickly be reopened and cause havoc. One of the key stories of 2014 is that racial divisions remain deep, and were exposed by the events in Ferguson and Staten Island.
We also saw how quickly cultural tides can change. Officially last year, same-sex marriage (for example) completed the shift from unthinkable to unquestionable. And in its wake, as my colleague Eric Metaxas mentioned yesterday, has come new threats to religious freedom—one that essentially enshrines a secular worldview. Religious and moral convictions must be kept private and out of the public square in both politics and commerce.
Now each of these issues, and the many others we faced in 2014, demand two things of Christ-followers. First, we’re called to clarity. I am convinced, especially after the chaos of Ferguson and the response to the CIA Torture Report (which I’ll discuss again soon on BreakPoint), that Christians need to be more careful than ever to avoid what Chuck Colson so often called the political illusion.
Our cultural divisions are falling today along almost completely political lines, and Christians very often find themselves using their faith to justify their political divisions rather than seeing each and every issue through the lens, first and foremost, of Scripture and historical Christian teaching.
And when those who are clearly our brothers and sisters in Christ and who share our worldview land on the other side of an issue, we must first pause and listen, and carefully consider whether we might have blind spots brought on in this politically charged environment in which we live. What’s most disturbing is when believers show an inability to listen, and to immediately castigate brothers and sisters in Christ as being “compromised.”
Now make no mistake—too many Christ-followers today are compromising on all-too-important issues like marriage and family, the image of God, the Bible’s truthfulness and other issues of central importance. Many are tempted to abandon the clarity of historic Christian teaching on these issues.
That’s why we need biblical clarity across the board. Not all disagreement is compromise, and it’s certainly not true that only those on the other side of the political aisle suffer from the Fall. We do too.
And so our categories cannot be first Republican or Democrat. And though those committed to historical Christian teaching will likely continue to find themselves most often on one side of the political aisle, let’s be clear: Our allegiance belongs to Christ, not the singular platform of a political party. And we can expect this temptation to only grow this year as presidential candidates launch their campaigns.
And as our culture continues to march toward unsustainable debt and family demise, we’ll also need to be clear as to what our true story really is. “Always be ready,” said St. Peter to a group of Christians facing persecution and dispersion, “to give an answer to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you.” Our story is one of hope.
“Christians have not right to despair,” wrote Richard John Neuhaus, “because despair is a sin. And Christians have not reason to despair, quite simply because Christ has risen.” That’s the truth of our culture and all cultures. It is the truth whatever the level of cultural pressure we’ll face in 2015.
And as we stand committed and uncompromising, let’s stand hopeful. I think we’ll see how compelling it can be to others.