In these weeks of political conventions, it is interesting to watch the dynamics that take place as groups of people gather and try to be united on a platform. Be it issues of security, defense, education, or care for the poor, our country’s two major parties gather and try to spell out their vision for how to address these complex issues. It is fascinating to listen to politicians find ways to speak with a unified voice with their party while clearly not always endorsing every plank of the platform. It can make for some uncomfortable press interviews, as well as I am sure qualms of conscience. Is it avoidable? Can someone completely buy the party line?
As citizens of the United States, we have almost been bred to eschew any attempt to give over our minds to a party platform in its entirety. To do so seems to be a bit of a sell-out of that most basic hallmark of the human experience – personal freedom. Even the party standard bearers are given latitude to, in some ways, part with the company line. With that held high as the paradigm, it is interesting how the same mode creeps into our discipleship with Jesus in the Church. We are hard pressed to find anyone other than the childish and the naïve who have swallowed all that Jesus has taught without some qualification or stipulation. Is that what passes as true freedom in this day and age?
Many rank and file Democrats and Republicans would struggle to articulate specifics of the party platform, even in these days when it is being discussed 24/7 on cable news (I’d love to see Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert take up the task of asking people on the street). But what might be more disappointing or sadly funny, is simply asking people who call themselves Christian to similarly articulate what it is that Jesus has stated as his public platform to build the Kingdom of God. More distressing would be to listen to those who, finding Jesus’ teachings to be a bit “too liberal or conservative”, describe which of his teachings they chose to avoid. In a search for “true freedom”, which of Jesus’ challenges have we simply opted out of?
Thank God that the political conventions are two weeks every four years and not more regularly. The question becomes, when is the Christian convention and how often should we participate in it? Are we willing to completely and freely give over ourselves for the party line – the convention speech that is the life and teaching of Jesus Christ? May I suggest that true freedom is only found as we completely embrace a life that is outlined by the author of life. And the more I opt out for my own imagined personal ideas, the more I shackle myself to a savior that is no greater than I.
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