How sad, but true. I'm borrowing the headline from a Guardian article on the subject. The article's intro and text clearly shows which version of the gospel that newspaper prefers (the leftie/liberal version) but it helps me to understand why I am deeply suspicious of any form of Christianity that is aligned strongly to one political wing or another.
A study led by Lee Ross of Stanford University in California has found that the Jesus of liberal Christians is very different from the one envisaged by conservatives… The Bible may claim that God created man in his own image, but the study suggests man creates God in his own image.
The Guardian is a pretty secular kind of a paper but I think it has hit the nail on the head here. If we are strongly aligned to one political viewpoint, are we not picking and choosing from Jesus' teaching and example, rather than surrendering our views to God? But far from just highlighting the hypocrisy of the Christian right, as The Guardian article does, it is equally a problem for the left. I've just read a new biography of social justice campaigner Dorothy Day, who is a real heroine of the Christian left. Her pacifist views were so strong that she even opposed the US intervention in World War Two. Yet, when Fidel Castro violently overthrew the Cuban government, she was supportive. Political affiliation can blind us. How can a violent communist revolution be any better in God's eyes than the violent opposition to fascism?
Being political isn't necessarily a bad thing. But if we can easily put our views in either the 'left' or 'right' - or condemning of those on the other side - then I think it's time to question whether we are letting God guide our paths, or whether we're using God to justify our own.
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me (John 17:20–21).
The other sad effect of this kind of political posturing is the division it creates, and the bad witness it gives to the likes of Guardian journalists. Can we humble ourselves to see the point of view of the other 'side'? Can evangelicals acknowledge the commitment to social justice and acceptance of others that is more often seen on the left? Can liberals acknowledge that the Bible may hold truth in areas that are difficult, from sexuality and sin to the reality of hell? All of these things were taught by Jesus; we can't ignore the bits that don't fit our own political views. At the least, we can acknowledge that our own views may have grey areas, or might possibly be wrong.
Let's try to answer Jesus' prayer for him, and be one.