Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.
We humans like to put people in groups. And when we do that, we find out something very quickly: we are in one group, and everyone else is in another group (or more than one other groups). But the fact that we are in a group must mean that we are in the best group. After all, that’s why we’re here. I cheer for Team X because they are the best sports team on the planet, they have the best players, and they perform the best, why on earth would I cheer for Team Y, they aren’t Team X? Therefore, the thinking would go that people who cheer for Team Y must have something wrong with them, because clearly they aren’t as good as your team. And of course, those who cheer for Team Y believe exactly the same, just switch the letters.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed our division and our anger for the “other team” is becoming less Christ-like and less tolerant. Not just in sports, but also in politics and religion, and boy are people really adamant that they are on the winning team and that the others are wrong in every single way (because they’re not on their team, and their team is right because they are on it, you know). I couldn’t help but notice this story recently about famous conservative Christian Jessica Duggar whose headline says that she believes liberal Christians are “going to hell”. Well, as a liberal Christian, I couldn’t help but notice! But wait, as a liberal Christian I must not like conservative Christians – after all I have this blog where I often talk about conservative Christians not acting like Christ asks us to. Do I think God doesn’t love them?
Clearly God must have a “team”, he blesses those who he blesses and curses those who he curses. He must be either with the conservative Christians or the progressive Christians.
Let’s take a look at who Jesus liked to hang around with. Jesus was often pilloried by the “religious” of His day – the Pharisees – for hanging out with those who they deem were not “true believers”. They were sinners: tax collectors, prostitutes, and other people who they loved to say the Scriptures did not approve of. So there we have our answer: the “conservative” religious of the day were against Jesus for hanging out with the “liberals”, those who didn’t care about who other people were. Case closed, Jesus is on Team Liberal. But wait a minute, we didn’t talk about all of Jesus’ followers. One of the most famous Bible verses come from John 3, where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus who came genuinely seeking Him. Nicodemus was a Pharisee.
So, whose “team” was Jesus on? He had disciples from both sides of the spectrum. When we look at who Jesus hung out with, how he was treated, and how he treated others, it’s clear that he was on Team Be Excellent To Each Other. When Nicodemus went to Him, it was not to judge who he was hanging out with, what He taught his disciples, or what He believed, Nicodemus came with a sincere heart to hear what Jesus said. He didn’t stop being a conservative (a Pharisee), but he discovered you could be a conservative and a decent human being.
Jesus was accepting of everyone, even those on all ends of the political spectrum. The only people he was against was people that hated and that put barriers against others simply because they didn’t believe the way they wanted them to believe. These were often the “religious right” of his day – and times haven’t changed – but as long as you are kind in your dealings to others, you can be a follower of Jesus, whether you’re a progressive or not.