Who can we trust?
Where are the real victories?
Politicians flip what they say, especially on a campaign trail. The media has been shown up for their biases. Religious leaders reveal shocking political positions. Who do we trust?
The Democrats are in despair, while the Republicans are celebrating a restoration of historic constitutional values. Meanwhile, real people are already feeling the effects: just recently, we read of christian business owners who sometimes closed their shops because of the effects of a Supreme Court decision. Yet in recent months, we are also hearing stories of children and women feeling unsafe as they are being taunted because of a licence given to another form of 'freedom' (or superiority). What is considered victory?
What must we learn from the recent election - that God is calling his people to?
1. we are all trumpets
I am afraid we are all racist, xenophobes, biased and frightfully insecure in our own ways about different things. We all operate at some level with stereotypes. But we were able to live and let live. We were able to know without so many words that all human community and convention is best not over-analysed. Life is to be lived, not yelled at.
Here in Singapore, we grew up with silly jokes about each other. Let's be honest, we told racist jokes, we beleaguer our government, we complain about everything. Yet we knew there was a line we did not cross. Rarely did we mean ill. We saw each other as equally tried and challenged by the realities of life, even though we will envy the rich (and equally make stereotypical jokes about them too).The internet however, has made it way too easy for us to confuse our need for self-broadcast with mindless spewing of personal opinions, often without regard for its consequence. Love thy neighbour seems not to apply online.
Recently I even learnt a new word from friends, kolaveri. It's meant to be a friendly tease, used among Tamil youths to indicate that the cranky person should back off. Its literal meaning is murderous rage, which we are seeing plenty of these days alas.
Our human desire for an audience drives us to jump in on all the confusing stuff flying around, often without careful and prayerful thought. Christians are going, "XX endorses the candidate" as if XX is God speaking, and we send echoes reverberating.
"Be slow to speak (type/share/like), slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." ~ James 1v19
is probably the needful application of biblical wisdom here.
James is not saying there isn't a place for indignation that issues in actions for justice. But he very honestly shows us the shadows in our hearts and calls us to rein in our speech and our strong emotions. We just don't so easily know God's right way in any given situation, especially one as complex as this... yet -
2. we are all truth-bearers
Each of us bear witness to truth. We all bear witness to our particular story and the truths found there. We all contribute to the larger story and the truths we will uphold together.
From the American dream to the Singapore Home, the rhetoric is always about things getting better. Understandably, leadership calls for the need to cast a vision of hope. The reality for many however is looking and feeling dreadfully grim. And we are not surprised if we read our Bibles.
Yet the human heart always will need these few things: faith, hope, love. We will differ on where we find it, experience it and express it.
The young gay man and his straight friend both need love. We all bear witness to these needs. I want to tell those who disagree it is alright. I also want to tell them that when they are vicious in their words, it hurts, for they, and our relationship matter to me. My friends are not a bunch of opinions. They are real beings with real hearts and real needs.
There is one truth that can bring us together, if we are willing. The story that unites us all. It is the honest admission that every one of us have dreams, we carry wounds, and we are capable of wounding. It is the story we all belong to: imago Dei and the Fall.
This is the story that Christians must live and tell, well.
We do better to spend our time doing these: dreaming, healing and serving.
"For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth" ~ 1 Corinthians 13v8
3. we are all tired and being tried
The earth is heating up, and the world is longing for renewal. We have exhausted many avenues for change. But there will always be fighters, warriors, dreamers and leaders because God loves us. There will be a cataclysmic end, but it is so wrong for us to get judgmental simply because there is a Judgment coming.
Wishing judgment upon any nation, people or group reveals more about your heart than theirs. I believe it breaks God's heart. When we turn to our cliches that 'God is on the throne', let us be sure He is on our thrones in our secret hearts.
Wishing judgment exposes what is going us in us. We are blaming our woes on others. I have been there. I was angry with American entertainment for tainting our marriages, homes, youths and children. I was mad and disappointed at leaders for failing to stand up for the weak. I was upset with Wall Street and the White House.
But I clearly see that I did not care enough to pray properly in a sustained fashion for a world that is reeling. When I began to, my heart changed. Clinton, Obama, Miley Cyrus... every one needs prayer.
GK Chesterton's reproach is apt here:
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.
It is time for us to try and go about it all very differently.
Beware what we share and spread.
Become clear what we believe.
Be first a pray-er than a proclaimer.
Who can we trust?
Christians, we must trust each other. We won't be at the same place in maturity and conviction. But let us start at the point of trust, allowing others to speak their wisdom and share their stories. We must learn to rebuild trust and not contribute to any unnecessary breakage.
In trusting each other, we honour God and trust Him as He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. In trusting each other, we make room for growth and transformation, partnerships and new possibilities because the Holy Spirit in us will lead us into all truth.
Where are the real victories?
More than any time in human history, we risk anarchy and the rule of the demagogue. More than any time in human history, ancient and traditional familial lines and community loyalties are being challenged.
When we can create a society and communities where there is faith, hope and love, so that the truth of God and His amazing love is not obfuscated, we showcase the victory of the Cross that reconciles, heals, and unites. We represent the nature and desire of God. This is victory, and one that truly lasts.
here's great, thoughtful, music to help us get there:Andrew Peterson's The Burning Edge of Dawn
Let's shoot for real, true triumphs!
all images from: http://politicschatter.com/politics-talk/slideshow/best-photos-2016-campaign-trail/