Disclaimer: If you start reading this you have to promise me that you will read until the end. Pinky promise? Okay, you can read now.
I swore I was not going to talk about this with anyone but this blog is about starting important conversations and I think this is important for college kids to think about.
I took a quiz the other day to see which presidential candidates I most likely stand with based on my answers to a series of questions about current events and issues politicians base their campaigns on. At the end of the quiz, it divides each candidate by percentage of who you agree with the most. I took the quiz on my iPhone while drinking a La Croix in the dorm of my private christian college in Oklahoma. All of a sudden I burst out laughing because the results were in. My top 3 candidates where democratic and I sided with them by nearly 90%. I could just imagine the arguments I would start when I told my almost entirely republican family that apparently I sided almost completely with Bernie Sanders. Not to mention,the reactions I got from school mates were along the lines of "uhhh, you're a democrat!?!?"
My actual political stance aside, these results made me realize how we over generalize what it means to be a Christian in America today.
My family moved to Colorado when I was seven years old. Although we lived in a predominately conservative city, I went to a large high school with kids of all different beliefs, races, religions, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. My closest friends were Christians. They loved going to youth group,drinking coffee, pranking on the weekends, and going on vacations and missions trips together. Yet still, some of my good friends growing up weren't christians. I had friends who were gay, atheist, anorexic, chubby, black, white, cheerleaders, musicians, agnostics, had piercings, tattoos, got pregnant, experimented with drugs, and drank on the weekends. As I watched friends, family members, and even church leaders begin to experiment with different ways of living I was really tested in what I believed "christian living" was. I began seeing that being a Christian didn't always mean being a republican. I saw that just because someone becomes a Christian doesn't mean they don't have homosexual feelings and tendencies. I realized that Christianity doesn't equate to a lot that I thought it would.
After high school I moved north to Fort Collins, Colorado to attend Colorado State University. This was real liberal Colorado. Fort Collins is everything you probably think of when you think of Colorado. People smoke weed, eat vegan, bike everywhere, wear Patagonia, drive Subarus, guys have full beards, girls don't shave their legs, everyone is nice, and even homeless people have dogs. The air is thin and clean. People celebrate health, diversity, education, and the freedom to choose. I am very aware of the difficulties of being a christian on a public college campus in a city like Fort Collins, but I am also thankful for the empathy it grew in me.
I would have four hour long conversations with other Christians who were convinced that abortion, smoking weed, and sleeping with their boyfriends was justifiable. In the same conversation we would talk about the beauty and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. I am not naive to the hypocrisy in these conversations but that wasn't the point of my engagement. The point of these conversations was to listen. Really listen to someone else, without pretense and without agenda. I believe when we come to people like this that the Lord will teach us how to guard our hearts and mind and allow us to be good friends while also walking away believing and proclaiming His truth.
What I learned from growing up in liberal Colorado was that we are all in P R O C E S S. And that there has to be patience for the process, or none of us will make it.
So let me clarify a few things. I am not a registered democrat. I do not, and probably will not ever publicly endorse a specific politician. I am 20 years old and understand that I know nothing about anything. I am a Christian. I believe that God is the creator of all and that He sent his son Jesus Christ to become like me and endure the same things I endure on Earth. He then died for all the sins of the world past, present, and future. The veil of the temple was torn and Jesus made a way for his Holy Spirit to dwell inside of me until I arrive at Heaven's gates. I believe God has set up boundaries for me here on Earth that allow me to live life to the fullest. I believe that God will discipline me when I cross boundaries because He is a good Father and loves me beyond what I can comprehend. I believe that Jesus is for me, cheering me on in Heaven. This is a man that I know, and a man that I will waste my life on. I am not a democrat. I am not a republican. I am a Christian, and some quiz on the internet told me I have democratic tendencies. And its not something I am going to worry about.
You aren't saved because you're republican. You aren't open minded because you're a democrat. These are unhealthy generalizations that hinder us from living in authentic community with people that may not agree with us- and might just teach us something new. I am not trying to convince anyone to change their political stances. I am not saying anything about my own. I am NOT saying throw your beliefs and foundations to the wind. God gave you your background and upbringing for a reason, acknowledge that. I am saying lets learn to listen to one another. Lets stop being afraid of people that are different from us.You won't stop believing in God because of a coffee date with an atheist. God is far stronger than that.
I wrote this in the notes on my iPhone awhile ago and found it earlier this evening:
"Here's the issue: Christianity is a journey- the process of removing the dead and planting and cultivating life. Christianity is not an overnight transformation but the slow daily choosing to believe that you are who The Lord says you are. But it's all a P R O C E S S. So if we are offended and refuse to believe in the existence of liberal Christians, homosexual Christians, Christians who curse, and some who occasionally do not believe in a God at all we are fooled. If we refuse to believe that life is a process and some of us are in the middle of that process we are liars or possibly highly self unaware. I am not giving liberties to sin or tolerance- I am pointing to grace: A God who understand we are dust. A God who gently reveals and convicts our sin, and a God who enjoys us in the process. Let us also be people of grace- people slow to speak our opinions and quick to hear for the voice of the Holy Spirit on behalf of our own lives and the lives of our comrades. Let us be kind."
And.....well.....thats my point. Have convictions. Have beliefs. But be humble. Think through things. And be nice.
When was the last time you sat down and had a civil conversation with someone who didn't share your same convictions? What can these people teach us? Do you think Jesus can use these people to affect our own lives for the better?
Talk about it!
(I hope I didn't make you too mad.)
Side note:College kids, its time to know whats going on in the world for yourself. I am so thankful that I have brilliant parents (and parents who pray) that I can talk about politics with and learn from. But its time that we learn to be knowledgable about our world and take ownership for the futures we are creating. An easy and entertaining way I get my news is through The Skimm. They email me news highlights every morning and they are short, informative, and actually really fun to read.