You have an interesting view as a fence-sitter.
As an emotional being, I've been too swayed in the past by emotional appeals and too quickly joined a cause or camp. Because of this, I've spent the last several years in quarantine. To restrain my bright-eyed and eager emotion, my intellect has instead taken the lead and kept me aloof--sitting on the fence and observing those around me. A fence-sitter is not a great thing to be; but you get to see some interesting things.
Working as I have for the past several years in two large Christian organizations, I've encountered Christians of all backgrounds, cultures, and traditions. I know fundamentalist Christians and environmentalist Christians; Catholic Christians and Baptist Christians; social activist Christians and Republican Christians; non-denominational Christians and Democrat Christians; Charismatic Christians and Anglican Christians.
Such an assorted bunch can lead to culture clashes, which are sometimes funny and many times just sad. I've sat at lunch tables where people decry the "right-wing fundamentalists" and affirm that these surely are not followers of Jesus Christ. I've sat in meetings where one would scoff at the "liberals," not realizing he was sitting among them.
I've heard it said that you can't be a Christian and a Democrat. I've heard it said that you can't be a Republican and a Christian. But I know both kinds. I've heard it said that Catholics aren't Christians. But I know Catholic Christians. I've heard it said that environmentalists and social activists aren't real Christians. But I know them too.
Perhaps this sounds elementary or even infantile, but your political, social, or worship beliefs do not dictate salvation. They do not even dictate if you are a very "good" Christian or not. "Good Christian" is a misnomer in the first place. Sometimes we can intellectually admit that there are Christian Democrats or Catholics, but with the inner caveat that they're probably not following Christ as faithfully as we are. But the idea of the "good Christian" belongs not to Christianity, but to the Pharisees.
I know I'm sometimes redundant on this topic, but this hurts me. I hate to see it. I hate to see us tear the unity of the body of Christ.
As far as I can see, most times we've picked up one particular banner because we believe in one particular cause so strongly based on our faith and Bible reading. We believe abortion is wrong because God created life and asks that we protect it, so we vote Republican. We believe that God loves each poor and oppressed person in the world and asks us to speak up for them, so we vote Democrat. Both are expressions of our faith in God's truth. And both are the actions of a Christian.
A sponsor called in to Compassion yesterday, concerned to hear that a Compassion-assisted project was being run through an Anglican church. She had heard Anglican churches had something fishy and Catholic-sounding, called "dioces." And was quite distraught to hear Compassion was entrusting the children to something as non-Christian as a "dioces." This particular example amuses me personally, as Mike and I now attend an Anglican church (and we still believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, mind you). I know people who have been hurt by the Catholic church, but I can't claim to know their pain. But I also know Catholic Christians who love God and serve him and believe his Son died to give them salvation. (I have a soft spot for Catholics, as this tradition has given us so many of the great Christian thinkers of our age, such as Peter Kreeft and J.R.R. Tolkien.)
I know Christians who celebrate Lent as an expression of their devotion to Christ. I know Christians who speak in tongues. I know Christians who cross themselves and kneel. I know Christians who worship to music that would fry my ear-drums in 5 minutes. And I know that they do what they do because of their reverence, their belief in an enormous God, their worship, and their love of God.
Remember Paul who shuffled back and forth between so many places and wrote letters back and forth from Turkey to Greece, trying to unify this motley crew into the body of Christ. Trying to help them learn from one another, help one another, and love one another even though the things which divided them seemed so large.
Our shuffling today isn't between the Macedonians and the Thessalonians. It's between the Anglicans and the Baptists, the Republicans and the Democrats, the fundamentalists and the activisits. We are each a part of the body of Christ, a glorious representation of one piece of Christ's plan for his Kingdom. We aren't all the same part. But we can listen, respect, love, help, accept, and learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ.