The Importance of Everything: Politics and The Christian
Creation’s Original and Ultimate Design
Think with me.
Think with me about well-functioning, collaborative systems. Think about the solar system, and the nervous system. Or how about sports teams, or the human eye, or a symphony.
Think Eco systems, or mosaics. Consider how each piece works together, forming a bigger picture that is far more dazzling and illustrative and advantageous than each piece in isolation.
Now think politics.
Wait—don’t think about that yet.
Go back to thinking about wholeness. Think about the importance of each element in good design. Contemplate the meaning of “Gestalt: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”—it’s a condition where the whole is greater—to be whole is greater.
Imagine a well-balanced bottle of wine.
Remember, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, where he likens of the body of Christ to the human body: each person and part is different, but absolutely useful and beneficial to the whole. Sure, the body can adapt to being without some of its parts, but how much better for the arm and the body to be together.
Think about life! Think of all of the different things that must come together in order to be alive.
In well-functioning, collaborative systems, everything is important; every ability is a blessing to the whole. Every part is intended for a place of relevance and dignity because it has the purpose of perfecting-by-participating-with the whole.
Non-interrelation means “unsustainable” or obsolescence.
THINK about that.
The Template for Creation’s Original and Ultimate Design
Now think about the Triune God.
God the Father, Son, and Spirit is a well-functioning, collaborative, living system.
He is not just “good”, He is “all things working together for it”.
He is a triad of mind, body, and soul — power, sacrifice and connectivity — for the sake of a fuller, bigger, more complete version of power, sacrifice and connectivity.
God is fluid diversity. He is complimentary differences as one complete Being.
Scriptures from Genesis illustrate that this multi-faceted Being is the Creator God who creates in like fashion. He is the over-arching system. He is the template for all systems. And specifically, the multi-faceted human creation is formatted as this—resembling God himself. In fact, we have been created not only to resemble God; we have been created after, in, through, because of, and for Himself the Triune God.
Furthermore, the verses in Colossians and Philippians and more convey that we have been created diversely with the intention of working together like (with, in, through, for….) God Himself.
The active element, the life-giving element, present even before the beginning—“working together”—is the key. It makes stuff happen. “Let us create…”
Collaboration is the Key
With so many moving parts in the boundless Kingdom of God, working together is what keeps all things from becoming a lifeless and spoiling heap. While there might otherwise be contradiction, redundancy, separation, and ultimate cancellation; working together enables growth, and places of dignity and purpose, value and effectiveness.
Think of “working together” as reconciliation—not as in just the good absorbing bad, or the unity that triumphs separation in the sense of forgiveness, though it is that, too—but consider reconciliation simply as: all things collaborating respectfully, perfectly.
Reconciliation serves to edify and enhance. It shapes, sharpens, and develops. It is active and inclusive; the means and the end. It increases the whole as it increases all things in size, number, attributes, and behavior to further perpetuate working together with all things (viz. magnify).
Reconciliation is our Template.
The burgeoning universe reflects its Template in this same way in that all things are working in correspondence with its nature of being active and inclusive. As a result, it further reflects its Creator by way of it being, as scientists say, both infinite and expanding… It isn’t enough to be big, and merely have done something once–it is proliferating according to its template, and as such, it is growing into a fuller and more complex version of itself.
In a similar way, we can be fully saved, and yet also be led into fuller salvation. It isn’t enough to just have a static dose of unity or salvation; because this goes against its nature, and the name of its very author. To be truly alive is to be growing in fuller unity.
(I can’t help myself here, I love this stuff. Here we have a paradox. “Infinite” and “expanding”–two different concepts which work together to reveal the nature of its Creator. How? It showcases the idea that God is big enough to include two truths which would otherwise cancel each other out: like “infinite and expanding”. The universe is an example of an edifying fusion, held within the hands of the Creator, of two or more truths which could otherwise stand alone. In so doing, this union of seemingly opposing ideas reveals the presence of God who is big enough, not only to include differences, but unite them as they work together. It is an expression of the promise in Matthew 18: “Where two or more are held together, there is the Triune God”; for THERE is reconciliation. Where there is reconciliation, there is the presence of God).
Think about that!
Humanity’s Highest Potential and Ultimate Design: Reconciliation/Collaboration. Reflecting a Diverse, Collaborative, and Loving God
Now think about the human creation.
The human creation is a reflection of God. It’s not just what we ought to be; it’s that we ARE. By virtue of our vast differences, we reflect a giant, diverse, equipped being. And when we’re in a spirit of togetherness, we’re in a posture of rightness and authenticity according to our ultimate design (our true identity) simply by being in alignment with what IS: triumphant, unfailing, collaborative oneness (which is actually the definition of love).
Expanding this thought: “God-as-oneness, and humans made to reflect such” would suggest that collaboration is our highest form of potential. Enabled by the Spirit of the reconciling God.
When it comes to a concept or a movement, reconciliation is the most important thing. Being “with”—not “against”—is the nature of our truest identity. It is more important than any offering to God, says Matthew 5:23-24. On these grounds, the highest form of righteousness therefore is not isolated purity, but rather collaboration (within/despite the messiness). It is not rightness in solitary, it is rightness in solidarity.
This kind of rightness glorifies the over-arching Truth, and the end-game of God—oneness and unity in and under Christ—as clarified in John 17:21, and in Ephesians 1:10 (initially, this is a most insulting message; and then it is the most relieving, joyous, freeing, empowering message an individual could hear… which is not unlike the way the Gospel is typically received).
Collectively, we are as multifaceted as the components of the universe, and each component is nothing short of splendid, if we are to believe Psalm 139:14. Taking our cue from the systems around us, success for us both individually and collectively actually requires that there be differences. And its triumph is not realized with a contest of importance for the individual; but rather upon the embracing of the importance of everything.
My point with all of this laborious contemplation of the indefinable God, and in exploring concepts like “all” and “paradox” and “oneness” is to propose that a being—specifically the collective human race—which is seemingly all over the board and/or existing in contradiction with itself might not be wrong so much as it is just not yet fully aware. All of the right parts and pieces are there, it just hasn’t grown into itself yet. It may be self-aware, but it is not wholly conscious. And it won’t get “right-er” by cutting itself off from its other parts.
Any dysfunction within itself is not due to the fact of widespread differences, but rather the disparaging nature and lack of willingness to work together—a sign of immaturity, and a behavior that further compounds itself.
This state of disunity indicates shortsightedness. It reveals a lack of understanding of whom we’ve been modeled after. It’s an indication of an absence of God-mindedness, and therefore an absence of the nature of God: humility, for example, or the goal of genuine unity, to name another.
Without the presence of God-mindedness (the ability to see things as God does), and without understanding of where God is leading us (toward fuller unity in Him in all things), “all things” looks like a sin. Without any hope in the ultimate goodness and authority of God, “working together” looks like a mess. Incongruent. It’s counter-intuitive. It looks like an insult. It looks impossible.
A divided/divisive group is a group which has not grown into the reflection of its Creator who is big enough to include two opposing-seeming concepts, and big enough to overcome the threats of inclusivity. In its state of immaturity, a divided group sees contradiction (as it is itself in contradiction), where God might be seeing potential for collaboration. A divisive group sees threat to its individual ideologies, where God sees a place to work together toward a full and perfect ideology—unity in Christ. Reconciliation.
How Those in the Kingdom Might Collaborate Toward Their Ultimate Identity (Practical Suggestions for Being Participators in our Maturation Process)
Incidentally, with this talk of collaboration, and all things… I am not suggesting that there is no wrong. On the contrary, there is wrongness and potential for wrongness everywhere. There was even potential for bad in the Garden of Eden, remember? There was that option to disobey; and also, notice that the Voice of Separation visited Eve even before she chose wrongly. No, there is badness and wrongness in every direction. But there is also goodness. So, I’m suggesting we heed Philippians 4:8 and err on the side of focusing on God’s ultimate goal.
Furthermore, I’m not proposing we align with, or even allow destruction, and partner with hate. Even God himself finally cleaves from any being that cannot disembody destruction or a desire for it. We have the right to dust off our feet and move on if reconciliation is refused.
Slander and malice are wrong, but they are God’s enemies to fight. They are symptoms of disunity. So, in the case of our politically divided country at-large, I’m suggesting we work with the root cause: our state of separation.
How do we turn the tides and begin working together? Surely we can draw upon the illustrations of our own personal trajectory of becoming more fully one with Christ!
For example, here’s how God works with me: He doesn’t require my 100% agreement in order to begin working together. Mostly, he relates to and works with the things we have in common. He does not turn a blind eye to my sins, but calls them out as an exception to the norm. He takes my “yes”, feeble as it may be, and works with it. He is empathetic to my conditions. He validates my perspective and invites me to see His. He calls me “friend”, and desires that we should “come and reason together”. He is patient. Persistent. He works in correspondence with his nature of edifying, collaborative oneness. And slowly, over time, though we are vastly different, we are working more and more fully, together.
OK, now think politics.
What if, in the realm of politics, our right(eous)ness is found more in the way we conduct ourselves toward others, than it is in the causes we are for or against and how passionately we fight for them.
What if, on the spectrum of politics as it relates to us Christians, right-ness (correctness) isn’t a place on the spectrum, or a side, or a wing, or a movement; but instead, it’s the act of being reconciliatory from whatever side we’re on. Doesn’t this seem like a truer reflection of God?
You know this already: we are an either/or culture. The world would have us believe that there is only black and white, and one is right and one is wrong. We are setting our sights too low as we make our business about delineating–confining–rightness to one side. Even we Christians sometimes feel it a concession far too “beneath us” (unholy, even!) to unite with those who oppose our worldviews… even though one of the most transcending acts of God’s love was to lower himself into our worldview for the purpose of holy unity.
Compounding our state of division, is a constant focus on certain platforms, sources, and outlets which regurgitate and perpetuate a bias toward division, and who parrot the rhetoric of the flesh’s comfort zone: polarization, “me = right”, “wrongness = over there”. Some media worshipers (those who believe that the media representing one’s personal position is the full extent of Truth) assume that magnifying this method of polarization is actually virtuous. The world is a dangerous place for non-thinkers.
Our positions and proximities may dictate our just involvement in fighting for a cause, but let’s not forget our ultimate identity in the process: respectfully collaborating oneness, in/under/like/through Christ. If being “Pro”-anything is turning us into a hater of actual people, then we’ve lost sight of our true calling.
Ideals Versus Creation’s Ultimate Identity: The Christian’s Higher Calling to Sincerely and Respectfully Collaborate (Love)
The current status of much of the human race is: antagonistic, divided, angry. There are several variables contributing to this, but ironically, this is the fruit of a generation preaching tolerance.
Well, we tried it. Tolerance. Perhaps it was a mistake, or maybe it was a necessary step in the process, but it certainly isn’t our ultimate destination. How do we treat differences? Our counterparts? (Our opposition?) With tolerance!?
Tolerance doesn’t work with humans—we can’t be lukewarm about differences. It’s like prescribing apathy, numbness, and denial as the answer. It’s like telling a husband and wife to begrudgingly coexist and hope for the best.
While those have helpful short-term benefits in shoring up further-destructive ripple effects, it is not the actual healing vaccine. It’s like merely administering anesthesia to the eye instead of proceeding to also remove the plank from it so it may function as it was intended. It’s a right “first do no harm” initial response, but there’s no final virtue in tolerance—there’s no bonding compound there.
If the ultimate, final goal is the “oneness” prayed for in John 17, then it’s time to evolve beyond an ideal of tolerating our differences.
It’s time to try loving our differences.
Ew. But seriously.
I’m not talking about forsaking your own beliefs and jumping sides—no, we’ve been intentionally scattered to all sides so that we can represent each one well. Neither is the opposite true: that we should coerce or require another to fully align with our beliefs (that’s not love—loving is neither predicated on agreeing nor is it initiated by coercion).
I’m talking about being a willing participant in God’s movement toward edifying, collaborative oneness in Christ, in the way that glorifies (reflects) the oneness we understand him to be talking about in John 17:21.
A few, immediate clarifications to help talk us off the ledge:
- Collaboration, as modeled by our Template, is a two-way street. Yes, it involves immense sacrifice, but it’s done for the purpose of bringing about eventual, fulfilling oneness, and edifying give-take. It’s based on a model of humility that all would be so-inspired—a lowering of oneself that all would be raised to their full potential. It’s not intended to perpetuate a model of eternal, one-sided martyrdom. Unity does not magnify under this model.
- Fully functioning, collaborative oneness includes calling out wrongness, but specifically with the hope and the spirit of the end goal in mind—esteemed togetherness. Compromise doesn’t mean that the boundaries for trespassing have moved; it means that collaboration has been prioritized. Tuning all actions to this focal point (edifying oneness) is imperative, as it conditions our words and our frequency, and flavors our tone.
- We do not have to collaborate with everyone. We just need to be willing to collaborate with anyone. But God gives us who he gives us. Remember Jesus, the Savior of Creation, through whom all things were made? God only gave him 12. Sure, Jesus had his mobs and his crowds and… well, all, but as for those whom God wanted Jesus to be daily and deliberately edifying and collaborative with? Twelve.
- This is not a petition that we should change the world—after all, God has already overcome the world. Also, we don’t own the world’s reaction. This is a petition to change ourselves. This is about being a willing participant in the working out of our own salvation. Let’s ourselves strive to be a collaborative and edifying person.
When we collaborate, compassion meets wisdom. Ideals meet strategy. Justice meets mercy. Freedom meets accountability, and “righteousness and peace kiss…”. Provision meets sustainability and aptitude, so that deep need meets deep fulfillment.
With regards to politics, we are not inconsequential as citizens in this movement toward collaboration—quite the opposite. Politicians may posture as leaders, but the privilege of a democracy comes with the burden that it is the people who need to change first—not the politicians.
So, if I may, here’s something that we the people could do to help enable edifying oneness.
As far as what to do, let’s consider reflecting, toward others, the collaborative process of salvation in our own lives.
As far as what not to do: let’s examine the words and deeds that come out of our own mouths which have only served to defile us as a people, and especially as Christians. Christians, please reconsider that smug remark. We tend to fancy ourselves cognoscentis given our prolific access to information, but God alone is the only source which offers absolute truth, and we need people on all sides to help us understand this, because God is that big.
Inserting a derogatory quip into a conversation or into a social media post is like airing dirty laundry or a hoisting the flag of immaturity or hypocrisy in one’s own front yard. Especially if it is in the name Christianity. It simply displays a lack of understanding of our own identity, and therefore God’s identity as well.
Inasmuch as it is up to us, let’s be a collaborative people, leaving the vengeance up to God. The responsibility alone of becoming a person who could sincerely hope for unity with all under Christ is plenty enough to keep us busy at work—far too busy to be throwing stones at others.
There are a lot of right causes out there; and there are even right causes which currently oppose one another, prompting many to wonder, “Which cause is the most righteous?” But righteousness is neither a cause nor a single ideal like tolerance. Righteousness is Christ-in-us, working toward an even fuller measure of Christ-in-us. This is God’s goal for us. Eventually, Christ alone is to be creation’s identity, manifesting in infinite and diverse ways throughout all of creation. Let’s be about this business and see how that affects politics.
If we can focus on that goal first and foremost, I wonder how that would influence our actions as we fight for good causes and/or address those who oppose us.
Reconciliation and collaboration require sacrifice which often poses as injustice and suffering, but it is the catalyst to becoming whom we’ve been created to be in Christ. Sacrifice (lowering oneself for the sake of unity) is vital to our participation in the kingdom of God in this world. It is the way out of our current, dead-ended, divisive environment (Philippians 3:10). It is the way to participate in God’s ultimate glory (I Peter 4:13), because this is how we magnify the complete, perfectly-collaborative God. This is what it looks like to work in correspondence with his nature.
Reconciliation is a miracle. Even more, that we would want reconciliation—be assured that this will take a miracle. But God promises he will give us our heart’s desires, so pray that he put this desire in our hearts.
Then, when the tides begin to shift, and we begin to collectively turn toward one another instead of on one another, we can be certain it was God who began a good work, who remains persistent, using all things to work together, that all of creation would reach its fullest potential—an edifying body of oneness full of Christ—like (as, with, in, for, under, and respectfully collaborating with…) God himself.