Reblogged from: Matt Rawle
Earlier this week a group of clergy gathered to discuss the “p” word. I’m not sure if I can even mention it in polite conversation, but they talked about politics. It started innocently enough with the hushed, over-the-shoulder question, “So, who are you going to vote for?” Soon thereafter I heard, “How can you be a Christian and vote for so and so,” “How can you be Christian and vote for this other so and so,” “You must not love our children if you vote for this or that,” “You must want Al-Quida to win if you don’t vote for this amendment.” Very learned and usually mature individuals were, in a moment’s notice, transported back to the 5th grade playground, throwing dirt in each other’s faces and tattling to their neighbor. Much like a hurricane gets its fuel from hot air, politics feeds off of dissension, ill-focused emotion, and fear. Before discussing the promise and the challenge of politics, we should take a step back and reminded ourselves of the promise and the challenge of Christ; “Where two or three of you have gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Jesus promises to be in our midst, but Jesus’ presence is a challenge to us to act according to that promise.
In the extreme, those on the right need an enemy, and those on the left need a victim. The zealous Democrat has a picture in his or her mind of who Republicans are, and zealous Republicans do the same to their liberal neighbors. The Zealous Democrat wants you to see Republicans as elephants, not large and majestic and intelligent creatures who care for their young and live in relatively harmonious families. They want you to see Republicans as fat, bumbling, pompous and preemptive big brothers who cause trouble around the world. The Zealous Republicans want you to see Democrats as a donkey, but not as the trusted and loyal economic workhorse. They want you to see Democrats as a braying, trouble-making, ignorant ass. In times of great tragedy an enemy creates a victim, which is why it seems that both sides work together after great hardship. Unfortunately the newfound patriotism in times of great distress can be an illusion of a glistening coin with an enemy as the head and a victim as the tail being tossed in the public square.
So what’s the Good News? Jesus said to “love your enemy.” Jesus also restored the victim (the sick, the oppressed) to the community. The Kingdom of God is a place where the enemy dissolves under the weight of grace and the victim is restored with a place at the table. In other words, in the Kingdom of God there is no room for poisonous banter between right and left. There is only room for the life-changing love of Christ dwelling within each of us. Certainly we are called to be in the world that God so loves, and we certainly have different ideas of how we are called to organize the body politic, but I wonder what the world might be like if the prodigals of politics transform the negativity into investment. It just might bring about the good that takes your breath away.