It’s been said that you can’t read a book by its cover.
I’m not quite so sure of that anymore.
Donald J. Trump’s path to the presidency was fueled by his exploitation of the visceral worst within us, which was the exact opposite of appealing to our better angels.
If you are reading this as a supporter, you probably are tempted to dismiss this post as just another partisan rant. And your dismissal might be well-founded, if not for the fact that I voted for him as an independent centrist, for one; and there is a transcending seriousness to the subject matter in this post, for another.
This goes well beyond a dispute over political ideology and policies to something much deeper – our humanity.
Hatred and contempt for differences in thought or expression, are all manifested in the continuous insults and ridicule cast at those who do not subscribe to, or dare to confront our tribal way of thinking. When they come from the president, the childish insults have become somewhat of a virtuous badge of honor for those they’re being cast at.
“People are known in this same way. Out of the virtue stored in their hearts, good and upright people will produce good fruit. But out of the evil hidden in their hearts, evil ones will produce what is evil. For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words.” Luke 6:45
Discourse in this country has been taken captive by an intransigent frame of mind – deaf to dissenting thoughts – thoughts that are not only taken with circumspect, but responded to with ever-increasing hate-filled rhetoric and insults that threaten the very fabric of human decency. The intransigence, hate, and contempt have, for the most part, been formed and fostered in the pit of extremes.
Where should the Church be found in all of this?
Certainly not in the middle of it!
Instead of reconciling old divisions, and being called into one body and faith, segments of the Christian community have opted instead to widen its divisions by aligning with political tribes.
I don’t think this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he talked about submission to governing authorities in Romans 13:1.
Submission, in Paul’s context above, only involves giving to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and not what belongs to God.
There is a biblical order of things, and what’s happening today, in my thinking, falls outside that order.
So I would caution those in the Christian community who have chosen to align themselves with this kind of political tribalism, with a passage of scripture found in Proverbs 22:24-25, that says, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
You must ask yourselves, “Is that what Christ has called us to?”
Some Christians are entering into a marriage with political ideologies and agendas that are devoid of the moral elements necessary for recognizing human suffering as it exists, irrespective of race, nationality or global situs. Afterall, to recognize human suffering, would make those in your tribe appear as “bleeding hearts” – a moniker long associated with liberals as a negative by those on the right.
But are not these the same people, while on earth, Christ ministered to, bled and died for – just as he did for you and me? I guess that would make Christ the ultimate bleeding heart, wouldn’t it?
So does this image mirror Christ?
Or does this?
When I listen to the debate over what kind of world we’re leaving to our children, it almost always is contextualized as existential threats such as debt, environment, safety, etc.
But what about the kind of world we’re leaving them, where freedom of expression is only applicable if that expression is similar to one’s own; where civility, reason, and compassion have been supplanted by visceral hate and disdain; and where the line between God and politics, or to be more exact, the line between godliness and the immoral, has been eviscerated?
Those threats span from the existential into the eternal.
So when you think about what we’re leaving our children, consider these words of Jesus:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” Matthew 18:6-7
What kind of picture will be on the cover of their book someday?