You and Me

The gospel isn’t just about you. And the gospel isn’t just about me. It’s about you and me, together, included in the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We live in a world that likes to divide people up: insiders and outsiders, good and evil, friend and enemy. Against the fallen system of this world Jesus speaks of one, new, undivided humanity (Eph. 2:15) in which everyone is reconciled (Col. 1:20) and everyone is included in Jesus’ redeeming work (Rom 5:18).

Jesus speaks a very strong word to us about this new humanity that exists in him. He says we should love our enemies (Matt. 5:44) give to those who ask for our help (Matt. 5:42) and take care of those who are strangers among us (Heb. 13:2). When we understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is about all of us – you and me together – we can no longer participate in this world’s system of division, exclusion, and hatefulness.

Here in the United States we are entering into a year of political debate as we prepare to elect new leaders. As you listen to our politicians over the coming year I challenge you to pay attention to who is talking about life as we know it to be in Jesus. Who is talking about inclusion? Who is talking about helping those in need and caring for the strangers among us? Who is calling our society to be a place of unity, inclusion, and care for others? Those are the politicians we should be supporting because they are the ones who are speaking out of the truth of who we all are in Christ.

We should support them because life itself, lived out in human society in the light of the gospel of Christ, is not just about you and what’s good for you. And it’s not just about me and what’s good for me. Life is about you and me, together, included in the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

~ Jonathan Stepp

18 comments so far

  1. Jane Hinrichs on

    Good points. So often, we are encouraged to recognize what party the politician is in rather than what he or she really stands for.

  2. Bill Winn on

    I think it is important note which politicians are in favor of the exclusion of the unborn from the world too. Most politicians sound like manure salesmen with a mouthful of samples anyway.

    • Pastor Jonathan on

      I agree, Bill, about protecting the unborn. One of the aspects of American politics that I find very troubling is that some politicians have been promising to do something about abortion for 40 years and yet when they win office they do very little about the problem. Many people who want to protect the unborn keep voting for politicians who say they’ll do something about it and don’t. It raises several questions in my mind. Are these politicians really in favor of protecting the unborn or are they just saying that to get votes? Why do voters for whom this is an important issue never hold the people they vote for accountable on this issue? Why do so many voters keep voting for politicians who say the right thing but don’t do the right thing? I also wonder why so many of the voters who want to protect the unborn also tend to be some of the most vocal supporters of unjust, aggressive war. I certainly believe the unborn have the right to life but I also think we need to love our enemies, do good to those who persecute us, and be concerned about the right to life of those in the many countries where we are at war.

      • Jeannine on

        This is right on, Jonathan. I used to vote Republican because of the abortion issue alone – it seemed like an easy choice to make because I was so against abortion. But I have woken up to the same thing – it’s a meaningless platform and rhetoric. It’s also a very complex issue in its own right – I feel that the issue of abortion is a symptom of much larger societal issues that can only be addressed at an individual and small community level. The government will never provide the solution.

        Unfortunately, I see the same thing meaningless platform and rhetoric on both sides. I can’t help seeing the two-party system as a complete fraud.

        I wasn’t able to vote at all in good conscience in the last presidential election because I didn’t see in either candidate/party the things that you talked about in your post. It would have all boiled down to voting for what I perceived to be a (marginally) “lesser evil.” What good would that do? I didn’t want to vote against a candidate I really didn’t like by voting for a candidate I disliked only slightly less. So my vote was one of no-confidence in either side. I received plenty of criticism for not “valuing what a privilege it is to vote,” but I have never regretted my decision, and I’m likely to make the same decision a few months from now. I’m certainly not apolitical…but I don’t see the solution to anyone’s problems lying in politics/government as it exists now.

      • Pastor Jonathan on

        I appreciate your frustration, Jeannine, and I appreciate what you’re saying about the complexity of the abortion issue. Our nation could certainly outlaw abortion but all the root issues about sex education, birth control, physical and psychological support for mothers in difficult pregnancies, the economic struggle of having children, child care for working parents, etc., still remain. For me it has become a matter of looking at the whole picture of what kind of society a candidate advocates for and not just the one issue of the law regarding abortion.

  3. Earl Jones on

    Someone has said that right-wing Christians need to meet up with some right Christians, also this could apply to the left. In this highly charged, divisive politcal landscape, I find it a struggle to follow the ideal of being apolitical. But right Christians really do follow our true Leader by learning to “love your enemies” which are merely perceived since we “struggle not against flesh and blood”. Great article Jonathan!

    • Pastor Jonathan on

      Thanks for the comments, Earl. I wonder: is being apolitical the ideal? We certainly shouldn’t preach politics in the church but I do think that sometimes the church has to take a stand on issues that fall within the realm of politics: human rights, peace, civil rights, etc., would be a few examples.

  4. Kimberly Spyker on

    Thank you so much, kind sir, for writing that beautiful truth. You have a way of reminding us of our “living” inclusion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  5. Nan Kuhlman on

    Jonathan,

    Although everyone thinks that having a different president in office will bring about great change, in reality the executive office is not the law-making part of the government. Congress is. While the president can ask them to look at creating legislation and while he also can veto it, it is really the job of Congress to create our laws. IMO, the biggest problem is with Congress and their inability to work out legislation that manages to preserve the priorities for both liberal and conservative. Until they come to terms with the idea of “inclusion,” there will be no real change.

    • Pastor Jonathan on

      Good point, Nan!

    • Jeannine on

      That’s why they invented the executive order, Nan 😉

      Seriously though, it would take an enormous leap of faith for me to believe in any of them. Presidents, candidates, Congressmen – the vast majority appear to be entirely sold out to special interests and big business. Though I am all for idealism, it seems so idealistic to me to think that any of them have the interests of the people in mind at all. We’ve heard them lie again and again – what does it matter what they say or profess when it only ever seems to amount to broken promises in the end?

      It could be so different though! 🙂

  6. Boyd Merriman on

    Then we should be praying for such a politician to step up and join the ranks. So far, none has done so. There are far too many voting against Obama rather than FOR a good potential leader. They don’t care who, as long as it’s not Obama. So the theme for this year is “Don’t vote for Obama”, not “Vote for a leader that can do the job well and bring unity and grace back into our Country, even if it is Obama”.

    Don’t live a life of being against something all the time, live a life of being FOR something. Yes Jesus is against sin, but he is more about being FOR us than just being against sin.

    Boyd

    • Pastor Jonathan on

      That’s a good point, Boyd – we should try to be known for what we are for and not what we’re against. I think this is a problem that some segments of American Christianity are facing right now. They are more known for what they’re against than what they’re for. We’ll all do better in life if we try to change that.

  7. Micah Royal on

    Really appreciated this… It hit on something that has bothered me, with some talking about Trinitarian theology. So often it does become about MY inclusion in the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit that we forget that a part of the mandate is to help extend that Trinitarian life into the wider world. Hence we pray thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven … And hence the very radical social teachings of Jesus, and his radically inclusive table fellowship. How to work to make our society mirror the transparency, inclusiveness, and mutual accountability you spoke of needing in the church is key. I will say with the statement about the unborn, not to stir the pot here, but politically for me my perspective on that changed when I began to realize that often the ones speaking so loudly against abortion not only don’t change that, but also don’t do much to promote a culture of life, or legislation to help include and care for the very people the unborn at risk of being aborted grow into — children born in poverty, children with disabilities, children in broken families. For me the question is not longer their stance on abortion per se but “Are they promoting the sort of culture and sort of policies which help make it easier for struggling mothers on the brink to feel the support to bring their pregnancies to term?” But abortion is only one of many issues — the larger context is how to have society come to better reflected the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit while also preserving the religious freedoms that keep the church from becoming a tool of injustice? We also have to realize the Trinity’s special concern for the poor, the outcast, the ways in which violence disrupt our living out of the sort of relationships that mirror the Triune life, and also care for creation since the Father has not chosen to abandon the world of nature, but take it into God’s self through the Incarnation & Ascension of the Son, by the Spirit who is the Lord & giver of Life.

  8. Micah Royal on

    Also, can I recommend the works of Jurgen Moltmann? He is a Trinitarian theologian influenced by the Eastern fathers and also Barth & the neorthodox school who directly applies the life of the Trinity to social issues. A good little book of his that is a good place to start is his THE SOURCE OF LIFE, where he applies a Trinitarian theology of the Holy Spirit to the question of life and justice issues.

    • Pastor Jonathan on

      Good points, Micah, thanks for adding your thoughts! And thanks for recommending the book by Moltmann – that sounds like a good one, hopefully I’ll get a chance to take a look at it soon.


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