My prayer for the 2011 is that we find common ground: politics, religion, etc. Aren’t you tired of all the finger pointing and bickering?
I don’t make my living as a political analyst but I was a poli sci major in college! My studies and life experience have taught me, as it did Solomon (I am not equating any wisdom I might have with what God gave him), there is nothing new under the sun. These debates are cyclical, and the pendulum will swing back and forth as it has since our democracy was founded in 1776. The founders built a system that moves slowly on purpose filled with lots of debate and process. Not good for quick-fixes, but an excellent way to ensure that people are heard and the issues ‘aired.’
With apologies to some of my friends, I think there are far too many political analysts anyway–and with additional apologies to baseball fans–it has become our national past time. The 24/7 cable news cycle doesn’t do us any favors it just creates more opportunity for more analysis. UGH!
Turning to religion (now there’s a noncontroversial topic), I watched a nice piece on “Finding a Religious Common Ground” produced by CBS News. I’m going to preempt some of the criticism of my appreciation for this by anticipating that some who share my Christian worldview will think that what I’m promoting is a watered-down version of my own faith in Christ. That isn’t the case…I know there are boundaries. But what happened to engagement with those that do not share our strongly healed views? Too often we ‘deamonize’ those that don’t share our worldview.
The Colson Center for Christian Worldview posted an article written by Glenn Sunshine that does a nice job of laying some ‘ground rules’ for engagement with those who hold differing political (and I would argue, too, religious) on How to Disagree. Chuck Colson is a huge promoter of making our faith winsome and we don’t do it by making those who disagree with us out to be our enemies.
A great example of what I’m talking about was Francis Collins’ interview in Newsweek where he referred to two well-know scientists who do not share his worldview. He says, “I don’t agree with their perspective, but I refuse to demonize them. I think they share with me the awe of what science can teach us about nature and the joy of that discovery and the promise that has for bettering the human condition. They don’t share with me the sense that there are other valid ways of finding truth.” Common ground.
Another guy who’s looking for common ground is Chris Seiple the President and CEO of the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE). Chris in no way ‘waters down’ the boundaries of our faith in Christ. He wrote an excellent article in 2009 on the topic of the politics of Jesus birth that clearly delineates some boundaries.
If you take the time to read this please do not stop at this article. Put it back into the context of what IGE does: IGE promotes sustainable environments for religious freedom worldwide. It studies the impact of faith on state and society, it encourages governments to protect religious freedom, and it equips citizens to exercise that freedom responsibly. The vision of the founder of IGE, Robert Seiple, was to make Christians a part of the solution rather than promoting divisions. He believed that religious freedom was something everyone talked about but no one really knew how to implement. Bob Seiple and his wife founded IGE to “make Christ visible and Christians relevant” in looking for solutions to a ‘debate’ that far too often is contentious. IGE goes about their work through engagement with others that do not share their worldview. They’re creating bridges by finding common ground.
As believers in Christ, let’s recommit to being ‘winsome’ in 2011. I wrote about this in a blog I posted in 2009 on Whatever Happened to the Golden Rule? Only through our ability to build bridges will we do what Christ asked of us.