I was listening to a radio show this morning and the host was talking about all of the trouble going on in the country these days. The gripe of many is that no one seems to be able to compromise to get the country going – as if compromise will lead us to the promised land.
The truth is, compromise is a vital commodity if the ones compromising are doing so based on shared values. In that case, it is not a matter of compromising your values but finding a way to solve a problem based on a common understanding of the problem. America used to be a country based on shared values which emerged from a common worldview foundation.
But in today’s America, we are not dealing with shared values. The opposing sides being asked to compromise have differing worldviews which lead to different values and goals. In this situation, compromise means giving up on certain core values. A couple of examples might be helpful at this point.
Congress recently put together a super committee which was tasked with coming up with a way to reduce the deficit of the U.S. government. This committee was staffed by six Democrats and six Republicans. After nearly three months of work, they were not able to come up with a compromise to solve the problem.
The trouble was not that they failed to recognize the existence of the problem. After all, that is the reason the committee was formed in the first place. The problem was that the opposing sides are operating from different worldview foundations. They did not have shared values. The Republicans value a free market solution while the Democrats value a government imposed solution. A third position was possible if both sides were willing to compromise some of their core values. In fact, that is what has been happening over the last several decades which finally led to this problem. But now, both sides insist on sticking to their core values and will not compromise them. In this environment, the only way out is for one side to get a large enough majority to completely bypass the other.
Let’s look at another example. This one has eternal consequences. What is necessary for salvation? As Christians, we believe that a person must repent of sin and come to know God by receiving Christ. On the other hand, Naturalists don’t even believe in the existence of God. Salvation for them is to get all they can out of this life because that is all there is. What is the possible compromise between the two? There is none because they are based on two different worldview foundations which mutually exclude one another. As Christians, we are not interested in compromise in this arena. We want to convert the non-believers. By the same token, Naturalists are not interested in compromising with believers. They want to convert us.
True compromise is only possible when there are shared values. This is true when talking about congress or about our relationship with God. As believers in Christ, we need to understand our worldview foundation and be willing to stand strong. We definitely need to show love toward those who don’t believe what we believe, but must never compromise the message. Our goal can only be to lead so many people to faith in Christ that the opposition goes away. Hmmm, sounds like the Great Commission to me.