The article headline in the New York Times was: “How Do Christians Fit Into the Two Party System? They Don’t.” The author, Tim Keller is the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.
I spent dozens of mornings with Tim in a small study group while living in New York City. His voice is deeply informed and telling. Tim’s essay in the Times, noted above, stated that the reason for separating faith and politics is to not create the impression that “those considering the Christian faith…need not only to believe in Jesus, but also to become members of the (fill in the blank) Party.”
Good Friday and Easter, indeed the Lenten season, are intended to replenish the soul. And, this moment in our history is for many, soul-wrenching. While our bodies need care, so do our souls – the physical needs the spiritual. Human distinctiveness is in many ways our soulful presence.
Most persons can, if pressed, provide a skeletal summary of Jesus’s life. Few, indeed a diminishing number, are students of his life—most of us are busy leading the only life we know for sure.
I will offer, however, a countervailing thought.
Early in my career life, I met Bruce Sundberg, who at the time had a Midwestern portfolio of Young Life organizations. He lived in St. Louis and was the staff hub of Young Life in Missouri and close-by States. Young Life is a Christian organization that, and I quote, “provides fun, adventurous life-changing and skill-building experiences.”
Bruce became not just a close friend, but also a spiritual presence in my life. His words were encouraging, but his presence was profound. As it is said, “he walked the talk.” His friendship guided me toward attempting to subordinate the challenges of my career to a faithful presence. I should add, “at least I tried.”
Bruce’s health is now in decline. My wife and I stay in touch through his loving wife, Beth. At an early point in their marriage they lived with their two daughters in the Philippines as they opened up Southeast Asia for Young Life.
Circling back to Tim Keller’s admonition about faith and politics, I can say for certain the former is a gift and the latter is too often an expression of our flaws. It would be perverse indeed if people thought the gateway to faith was somehow through political affiliation.
The divinity of Jesus, and that is my belief, is in part reflected in the extraordinary actions of His most devoted followers. Mother Teresa, for example, was informed by the transformational condition of belief, love. And when crisis, or simply hurt, confronts humanity, you find the Red Cross and so many caring organizations that were founded and continue to be led by the devout.
The world, before and after Jesus Christ, has a deep need for love. The events leading up to Good Friday and culminating with Easter are enduring gifts of God’s love. And to Bruce Sundberg, who has been a transcendent treasure in my life – Thank you.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.