13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
I live in the rural southwest, in one of the most conservative areas in the country. As a believer and a liberal, it’s a tough pill to swallow when I see neighbors posting on Facebook about “illegals” or I send texts for my candidate of choice and receive responses from conservative voters calling me a whore.
According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of conservative Americans identify as Christian. We all know, because we see it from our legislators and friends, that this crossover between Christian and conservative is common. It’s also fairly common to see Christian conservatives using Scripture as a gatekeeper or as a way to keep people out rather than inviting them in. It’s at work in our communities, our families, our personal lives.
A while back I started a personal scripture writing project. I am copying out the New Testament, long-hand in notebooks, and annotating, researching, and applying it in writing. Why?
- I have not read the Bible from cover to cover
- I’m consistently baffled by conservative zeal for President 45 given his cruelty and crassness
- I want to strengthen my relationship with God and the Bible
- I want to experience Jesus’ words intensely
In truth, I also want to find a vocabulary for speaking with, or representing myself to, my family, friends, acquaintances and fellow believers. I know as well as anyone that my indignant anger, harsh words, and liberal enthusiasm won’t win anyone over unless they’re already leaning this way. I’ve failed time and again at being kind about these issues in writing. I know that. I own it. I have painted with a broad brush, hurt my family members, friends. The road runs both ways, unfortunately.
What I’m finding in the New Testament is kindness, caring, selflessness, Jesus’ willingness to bend over backwards to include and exalt and heal the poor, the outcast, damaged, sick, those who are shoved out instead of invited in. I knew it was there, but I needed to experience it again. Intensely.
The only way I know to take hold of my mouth and rowdy typing fingers is to put on the full armor of God in speaking the Scripture, typing it, writing it, understanding it, living it. There’s a lot of gray area for interpretation, for sure. I know how easy it is for kindness and loving our neighbor to fall to the wayside. I’m trying. I’m trying. I’m trying.