Oh, the deepening controversy about controversies and the widening division about unity.
Almost a year ago, I started writing a response to a blog post by a lovely woman who loves Jesus and with whom I don’t always agree.
In her post, she speaks with passion about hypocrisy, wokeness, virtue signaling, division, religious liberty, and a weariness of politics and the media. She makes a call for humility, meeting in the middle, compromise, cooperation.
She didn’t say it, but in her voice I heard a broken-hearted citizen who longs for peace and a sense of community. She prays for unity, a value we have seen in very short measure for years. She is searching for common ground.
Written right after the last election, she doesn’t mince words when speaking about political chaos, extremist positions, and us v. them. In fact, it was about the dramatic changes in the administration that I was going to push back a little. I found myself saying, “But how about…” – but stopped myself and did some serious contemplating.
And it occurred to me that our focus may be misplaced. Many issues divide us (like right-to-life, the refugee and asylum crisis, religious freedom, gun control, and the right to wealth, to name a few) and they are front and center as the wind changes in Washington, D.C. We hear calls of foul play about executive decisions, the far right/left positions that threaten to upset a balance of power, and the often heard They are trying to destroy our country!
Right now, I am more convinced than ever that we should, in fact, be more concerned about what we expect from those in office.
The development of technology has given us the power to put a computer – and a world of social media – in our pocket. The 24/7 news cycles have given us wall-to-wall access to everyone that has a name or platform. We are inundated with the minutia about the lives of those in the public eye, a phenomenon that, up until recently, was the obligation of only the tabloids and gossip columns. It’s almost as if we believe we really know the people we have elected, watch, and admire or despise. But do we really?
For those of us who look to scripture for wisdom and truth, it’s not easy, even with the power of Google, to find and compare writings about government and Biblical teachings. I reread the Constitution, searched the Bible for words like politician, leader, and government and, for the life of me, I can find little more than (and this is over-simplified, I know) God is over politicians and we are expected to honor those in office.
I feel increasingly uneasy about finding scriptures that support my opinions rather than forming my opinions based on scripture. Please do not misunderstand… I do not disparage those who sincerely believe their interpretation of difficult and vague scriptures draw clear lines in the sand about tricky subjects. I don’t question their devotion – and would hope they do not question mine.
But it seems that recently many Christians have not only come to believe that God clearly stands with some candidates who will lead us into a more Christian nation, but He also remains passive or silent about others running for office. And somehow we know which is which. It seems we are depending on those chosen few to be The Ones, the saviors, the Godly leaders we believe we desperately need.
The operative word there is leaders, a quality we should not necessarily be looking for.
You see, in my not-exhaustive investigation of both the Constitution and the Scriptures, I find no evidence that these men and women are our leaders. On the other hand, in a variety of sources, from official websites to historic archives, the word serve appears as a representative’s role in government. In fact, when I searched for “serve as President,” there were a multitude of places both official and information that referred to a term as “service.”
Oddly enough, when you look for “lead as President” the only information that appears is how candidates are faring in the polls, as in “Biden leads” or “Trump widens lead.”
I understand that when important decisions about our place in and protection from the world, the President is our military leader. I get it. Someone has to be in charge of the weapons and manpower.
But by and large, those we choose to be our voices in Congress, the Senate and the White House should understand that they serve us! Their job is to make our lives – ALL of our lives – safe and stable. Once they are elected, they serve an entire constituency, not just the ones who voted their way. And they are not there to drag their opponents through a gauntly or beat them into submission. They are not there to decide for us what gets attention and what gets ignored.
They are paid good money and significant benefits to see that the needs and choices of every single person in their geographical area is considered and, to the best of their ability, met.
But we seldom see the humble hearts of a servant. Instead of service, they seek power. Instead of “for the common good,” they fight for the preferences of a few. Instead of asking, what do my people want, they pursue self-interest and position.
The post ended with a call to compromise.
Unfortunately, and this is where some feather-ruffling may begin, I know too many people who believe compromise means You want compromise? OK – you first. But if you don’t come far enough, I’m walkin’ away. AND when we come back to the table, we’re going to start where you gave in – and we’ll expect more.
More ruffling: I don’t think political compromise is in any way connected to issues of faith. As I have said in conversations more than once with a brother or sister, if you believe strongly that God has asked you to work on behalf of one side or the other of a controversial issue, you go with your bad self with my blessing.
But the Bible does not suggest passing laws to reinforce a “Christian world-view” of politics or behavior. That’s our daily assignment as disciples.
And may we never, ever forget that no matter what the other side says or does, we are to approach them with love. We don’t have to compromise our beliefs about truth and right. But we have absolutely no business getting ugly on God’s behalf.
We don’t need a person or group in “power” to prop Jesus up so we can continue to live in relative serenity and peace, fooling ourselves that we exist in a Christian nation.
The way I see it, the only true and abiding strength we enjoy as a Church is maintained not by laws and politicians who legislate while holding the Bible up for all to see, but by the actual rank and file Jesus-follower who cares more about his neighbor and the disenfranchised and ignored, the hurting and betrayed – whether or not they have a personal relationship with God – than he does about his 401K or right to shoot an intruder.
Rev. Benjamin Cremer recently tweeted: “A Christianity that believes it needs a political party, president, legislation, and a nation to ensure its survival is a Christianity that actually dethrones Jesus as savior of the nations and advances a belief that Jesus needs a nation to be his savior.”
My lovelies, please do not misunderstand. I enjoy the tranquility and security of living here. And I am horrified by the evil all around us that takes advantage of children or promotes hateful behavior.
But I am weary of the constant clamoring and posturing as politicians serve themselves under the guise of reclaiming the U.S. for Christianity or maintaining the status quo of laws and rules. Laws and rules which, by the way, were designed by rich white men who had no interest in the needs of women, people of color, or anyone different than them.
The saddest part for me, however, is this: I am heartbroken that so many of those with whom I share faith in the most fundamental, Jesus-loving way feel free to refer to those who don’t to fall in line with every step as a moron, stupid, misled, or uninformed.
Worst of all? How can you call yourself a Christian?
Although I have serious arguments in my head with some who hold way different positions than I do, it is far, Far, FAR above my pay grade to publicly or directly slander their names or question their faith.
I’m not entirely sure where I go from here, except to listen the best I know how to Jesus and his whispers of love and correction.
To remember that it’s the love I’m supposed to share. The correction part is for me; I’ll leave it up to Him to straighten up the world.
And for now, I pray and hope for you