Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Day After

Rumor has it there’s an election coming up! If you haven’t already voted, I hope you’ve made plans to do so. Elections matter, and, as Calvin understood clearly, followers of Jesus have a deep responsibility to participate in civic affairs, including serving in office and casting our votes for candidates willing to serve.
The low regard in which we hold public servants these days is one of the sad ironies of the American experiment in self-governance. I suppose that is both a symptom and a cause of the deep political divisions in our society.
We may not share equally in creating these divisions, but it is not false equivalency to say that we all share responsibility for it. It is our society, and we shape its culture even as we are shaped by it.
We have a responsibility – indeed, a duty – to engage critically both the issues of the day and the individuals who would lead us through them. Critical engagement is a faithful response to the world.
Cynical disengagement is not. It undermines the institutions that it pretends to critique, and it damages the individuals who attempt to lead them. When deep cynicism becomes the default response to express disagreement it short-circuits systems built on honest accountability. Cynicism can never stand in for honest criticism, because cynicism is fundamentally dishonest. As such, it is an unfaithful response to the world.
A faithful response to the world holds onto these honest truths, articulated by Steven Mattson at Sojourners this fall:
·      God is not glorified by xenophobia.
·      God is not glorified by sexism.
·      God is not glorified by systemic racism.
·      God is not glorified by rejecting the maligned.
·      God is not glorified by fear, hate, shame, and pride.
We want to glorify God, but it is so very easy to be so deeply cynical these days. The presidential campaign seems designed to undermine trust in every candidate, and has devolved into a contest destined to undermine trust in the outcome, as well. While I have clear thoughts and strong opinions on the race (see the previous post), I have deep concerns about the system’s ability to function well no matter who prevails next week.
As followers of Jesus, we must faithfully proclaim some fundamental truths:
·      God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat. Or a Green. Or a Libertarian.
·      Each of the candidates is loved by God.
·      No matter who prevails, God continues to reign in sovereign love.
This is true today, and it will remain true on Wednesday morning.
No matter where political candidates stand, God stands on the side of the poor, the marginalized, and the victims of violence. If we want to be close to God, we must be close to those with whom God stands. When we stand in those places we may be surprised to find folks with whom we disagree politically standing there, too.
That is to say, no party holds a corner on the market of political or policy ideas to address poverty, violence, and injustice.
That is why I remain committed to keeping the church wide open to people who hold a wide range of political perspectives so long as they remain committed to engaging those core concerns with compassion and love.
Standing together in those places where God is calling we might just be able to see a path out of the cynical morass of these days.
We stand together in worship, remembering all of this. As we re-member, we are also working to put back together a body politic that seem dismembered by cynicism these days.
So, come and worship!