This morning I was going to write some things about what is going on in country in these days, and how, to my sorrow and frustration, whenever I hear my Christian friends prescribe solutions, I am not hearing Christian solutions bubbling up out of the Gospel, I merely hear Democrat or Republican party solutions, dressed up with a few Bible verses for proof texts, if the person is feeling especially spiritual at the moment. This lack of Christian response, speaking a better Word than the world can offer, a Christian response that Christians are agreed upon (political party affiliation, right now, is a MUCH better predictor of what you will say about riots, racism, policing, Covid, or wildfires, than being Christian is) – the lack of this is alarming in the extreme. What a far cry from Paul’s admonition that “there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NAB).
I was going to write my own thoughts about this, but instead, I will go with some comments from N.T. Wright from my morning reading, which I think will cover some ground vital, directive, and potentially life-giving. This is from his comments on 1 Corinthians 1’s opening. He begins by describing a phone call in which a friend of his went on and on about a young man she was falling for. It was obvious, he said, by what she talked about, what her passion was. “It doesn’t take long in someone’s company,” Wright says, “or even in a phone call, before you discover what’s really exciting them, what is at the centre of their waking thoughts.
Paul’s central concern, here and throughout his life and work, was quite simply Jesus. The name occurs eight times in these nine verses. Paul couldn’t stop talking about Jesus, because without Jesus nothing else he said or did made any sense. And what he wants the Corinthians to get hold of most of all is what it means to have Jesus at the middle of your story, your life, your thoughts, your imagination. If they can do that, all the other issues that rush to and fro through the letter will sort themselves out.
….he wants them to have Jesus at the centre of their understanding of the world and of history.
…. (formerly pagans, they didn’t realize that) history, the story of the world, was going anywhere, or that their own lives might be part of that forward movement.
…they have been caught up into a great movement of the love and power of the one true God, the God of Israel…. from God’s point of view; it means that he has set people aside for special purposes; and the people in question are expected to co-operate with this.
they discover that they are part of a large and growing worldwide family, brothers and sisters of everyone who ‘calls on the name of our Lord King Jesus’. In fact, ‘calling on’ this name is the one and only sign of membership in this family, though people in Paul’s day and ever since have tried to introduce other signs of membership as well.
Wright, N.T.. Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 3). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Perhaps, as we prescribe solutions for the problems in our world, though we think deeply, informedly, and recognizing the complex nature of complex societal problems, Christians ought to revolve our thoughts and prescriptions around Jesus, rather than Republican or Democratic talking points. I’m certain Paul, who lived in a complex, metropolitan society awhirl in races, political theories, philosophical perspectives, and movements, would tell us so.