“Respect the Office, Not the Person”, Kevin Bacon and our Doxological-Gospel Purposes
Living the Good News to the Glory of God and Interacting with Everyday People and Politicians
In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit instructs us to make the glory of God our highest priority (1 Cor 10:31) even down to our motivations for consuming food!
Elsewhere He also exhorts us to live in such a fashion as to discern wisdom from folly, and good from evil. In matters that regard our political leaders, we are to respect their persons, and respect their office even as we disagree with and criticize their policies. We are to do this while living for righteousness under the auspices of the Good News of Christ. [Note, those who want to use the Law of Moses for a lot of their reasons for life had best be careful here--we live under the Law of Christ, not Moses.] Throughout His Word, we find many other similar instructions from the Spirit regarding public and private life.
What is to be a chief thought in regard to all people? “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God–even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1Corinthians 10:32-33.
Here, the Spirit through Saul of Tarsus, commands us to live with all kinds of people so that we are not the source of a “stumble” by others. This is not about some over-the-top tiptoeing, Casper Milquetoast kind of approach to life and people–“ooh, I don’t want to offend anyone.” The “offense” or “stumble” is much more important than that. As some would say, “it’s not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that.”
Rather, Paul is referring to a “stumble” which results in an ultimate rejection of the Good News. What we do and say, and the attitude we project must be such that even among those who are our enemies (with proper introspection) they will only ultimately have their own reasons for rejecting Christ. They should not be able to say truthfully that your or my words, actions or attitudes are why they reject God in Christ.
The goal then is that no non-Christian or professing Christian should be able to refer to a proper understanding of our words, actions and attitudes and say: “That is why I will not submit to God in Christ.”
Personally, this somehow must influence the public and private nature of my writing, my spoken words, my actions, and the attitudes which I actually have. Do I pass the test? Ummm, errr, not so much. Ugh!
Um, Ok, but Kevin Bacon? Wha?
I don’t know if people do this anymore, but there once was a game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” [Just search it, if you don't know the reference. In the meta, references and memes come and go quickly. *] The idea was that you could name any person and within six steps you could find their connection to Kevin Bacon.
Here’s the thing, we live in a world filled with Kevin Bacons. As you and I live in an increasingly connected world, we are more likely to “meet” and possibly interact with the people we discuss, even those we mock or deride in a more closed world of Social Media, let alone the “real” world. Even without technology, the longer you live, even if you move a lot, you are more and more likely to run into people who are acquainted with you. We’re all Kevin Bacon now, and those six degrees are reducing every moment!
Enough Bacon, Back to Paul and our God-glorifying, Christ-proclaiming Life Purpose
So, could I walk up to anyone (even a politician with whom I disagree) in my city, my township, my county, my region, my state, my country region, my country, my continent, my world and try to show them the Good News of Jesus Christ without their responding “Yes, but your words, your actions and your attitudes actually do not match this Good News. For I know what you have written (done, think about, etc.) against the people who oppose you–even against me. You were not only critical of their ideas, which I am fine with, but you were disrespectful to them. This seems out-of-line with the Good News you are telling me. Why should I listen and heed this Good News?”
God help us!