Right or Left Wing, Why Not Have The Whole Bird?
The 2004 Federal US and Australian Federal Elections revealed more about the state of Western Christianity than it did about the political situations in each country.
During the campaigns Christian groups from both the right and the left were very proactive, a lot more than in previous election campaigns, and in recent memory.
Right wing fundamentalist groups were campaigning for the upholding of moral values, supporting the role both countries were playing in the Iraq War, and supported the major conservative parties, such as the Republican Party in the US and the Liberal Party.
Left wing liberals on the other hand were against the war and believed it was time the church started to embrace cultural change, and that certain morals and values no longer have any relevant baring in today's modern society, and began to campaign strongly for civil rights issues and supported the American Democrats and the Australian Labor Party.
While Australia has since had its subsequent election, as the US draws closer to its presidential elections in October, it can be expected that more of the same will occur.
THE POWER OF THE CHRISTIAN VOTE
In the aftermath of the 2004 elections, in which the conservative parties won, it was believed the right wing Christian fundamentalists were responsible for influencing the outcome of each result, which is partially true, but it was mostly a mere coincidence.
The results of last years Australian election seen the Australian Labor Party win the election, why it failed ( as well as the US Democrats ) to do so in 2004 was largely to do with a failure to produce strong enough policies to win the confidence of voters … particularly on the issue of economics.
This time around the conservatives were seen to have run out of ideas and a similar story is happening in the US.
The outcome of the 2004 elections triggered a strong media probe in to the right wing side of the church.
In the US it was shown to be highly influential based upon president George W. Bush's professed Christian faith.
In Australia it was a slightly different story.
The then Prime Minister John Howard also professed a Christian faith but was not seen as devoted as president Bush.
Howard did however benefit from the Christian vote and used the right wing Christian fundamentalist political party Family First as a strong ally.
Australian television personality Andrew Denton filmed a documentary called, "God On My Side,” where Denton visited a National Religious Broadcaster's convention in the heart of the "American Bible Belt”.
An agnostic, Denton went on record as saying these people were scary.
Many well known Pentecostal churches have since been on the receiving end of intense scrutiny and harsh comedy skits by the likes of "The Chasers War on Everything.”
The biggest revelation of those elections was Western Christianity appears divided and it doesn't really know what it stands for.
One side maintains moral values in line with biblical teaching is important, while the other says some of it is but some of it isn't relevant anymore.
One side maintains civil rights and liberties and social injustices were the important issues, while the other says we are in moral decay because we have been neglecting the truth.
The Natural Church Development Three Color illustration of the triune God can demonstrate a few things about things we already know about our churches and about ourselves.
Some churches have a green (liberal) starting point, others a red (conservative) and others a blue ( charismatic) starting point.
Some churches have a bi – color starting point and some can end up reasonably balanced … which of course is the desired goal … and of course its the same with individuals.
What the Three Color illustration demonstrates is that the church biblically and logically can not be divided and neither can God. There is no left or right wing.
And if God or the church is like a bird then for the church to function properly it needs both of its wings working and flapping in co-ordinance with its body.
If its a bird, what would we ideally like to see a bird do …? Fly!
Even flightless birds like Ostriches and Emus need their wings to be able to run at top speed.
By calling our churches right or left wing what we are really saying is that we are limited in our thinking and God is limited His capacity to actually work through them.
The bible refers to the church as a body and it needs its blood lines running well in order to help it function as God dreamed it to, Jesus demanded it to, and the Spirit of God is encouraging us to do.
" I'M IN THE FATHER … THE FATHER IS IN ME …”
A common belief today is if Jesus didn't say it, stuff written in the Old Testament and Paul's writings must be irrelevant, and the things God once frowned upon must be OK.
In reality it doesn't really stand against Jesus' own words, even if you live a life and run a church based on the Gospels alone, complications in this line of thinking still arise.
At the time he delivered the Beatitudes and the Sermon on The Mount he made sure his disciples and all those who could hear him were clear on something, " Don't think I have come to get rid of the Law. Nothing about it will change, none of the standards of which my Father has already set will be changed.
"I do however ask you do not live like the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. I am asking you to live a life that is above that and much better.” ( Matthew 5 : 17 – 20 )
He told Philip quite frankly, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” ( John 14: 9 )
He urged His disciples to love one another as the world will recognize them by their love for one another.
John in the introduction of his account of the life of Jesus wrote, "He came to give a gospel of truth and grace …” confirmed by Jesus' own words in John 8 : 31 – 33.
Nothing in Jesus words hints to any right or left wing leanings: what His words do show is that both are right in part and wrong in part.
When he urged his disciples to love one another, one of the ways that can be shown is by churches and believers from each starting point learning to help each other understand some things.
The liberals can teach the conservatives about showing mercy and the need to stand up against social injustices, the conservatives can teach the liberals the importance of balanced biblical teaching, and the charismatics can teach them all a thing or two of the importance of being open to hearing the voice of God and seeking his guidance.
LEARN GOD's PERSPECTIVE
The Three Color Cycle can help that come about because of our different starting points, we all do not think the same, but we are all not right either … only God's perspective is right … and surely we can help each other learn that.
The conservatives are right about one thing, the bible is good place to start and learn about his perspective.
If we can't ask each other questions and answer them, if we can not listen to each others views, and if we can't learn from each other – there is something seriously wrong.
Paul does urge us all to carry each other. ( Galations 6: 2 )
Only by doing this can we learn balance in our churches and in our daily lives.