No matter how kindly we frame it, the message of Jesus draws opposition. Several years ago, Vanderbilt University derecognized various Christian groups because they required that to hold a leadership position in their group, you needed to believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead after his crucifixion.
The Vanderbilt administration said that to forbid someone from being a group leader for not believing in the resurrection was intolerant! The Christian leaders showed a winsome attitude as they explained what they believed and why they believed it. But basically the administrators said, “We don’t care about your kind attitude; your beliefs are discriminatory and your groups are hereby banned from campus.”
I at least give the administrators credit for having an accurate grasp of the real core issue. You might think that they would evict Christian groups due to disputes about cultural issues such as abortion or gay rights. But the administrators chose the key Christian distinctive that has not and will not ever change: we owe our lives to, and base our lives on, faith in a resurrected man.
The Vanderbilt fight, then, has a helpful lesson: We don’t want to erect false obstacles by saying that being a Christian is defined by a list of positions that you must take in the culture wars. (Indeed, when fights about abortion and gay rights die down, they will only be replaced by a new set of culture war issues.)
I’m not saying that political issues are irrelevant or unimportant. But they are all less important than this claim: Jesus is alive. And he wasn’t blowing smoke when he said he will return to rule as King. Neither Republican nor Democrat, and not a capitalist and not a socialist, he won’t allow any fights over culture war issues. We will laugh at the idea that we once thought that the right political solutions would bring heaven on earth.
Does all that sound too good to be true? It’s not. Check out this promise about Jesus’ return: ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)