Wednesday, October 03, 2012
The politics of holiness
It's a beautiful Fall day, I've got a caramel latte in a big red cup and I'm "Learning to Fly" with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in my ears. The only thing that could possibly ruin it is another trip through the Facebook land of political commentary. I can't help but imagine the heights that we as a nation might aspire to if we collectively invested as much time and passion in our vocations as we do with "sharing" and "liking" each others recent finds on YouTube and all things cyber. What is the most intriguing and, I'm not going to lie, distressing is the amount of rabid rhetoric from people who, like myself, claim to follow Jesus. It's not a partisan thing either...in fact, in my opinion it's one of the only truly bi-partisan efforts within our political process. At the moment, I am leading my community o'faith through a study in what it would look like to actually be a people who live lives of holiness. This actually sounds more intimidating and self defeating than it is. Holiness is really defined as living "set apart" from the rest. It's defined as people living with the realization that they are not citizens of any earthly kingdom nor bound by any political process. There are directives such as "honor the emperor" and love people unconditionally while giving any responsibility for judgment back to God. I'm told that this is not our kingdom, that i'm a citizen of something higher. This is only a temporary place and God places people in authority, good or bad...its not ours to decide. It occurred to me this morning that I have lived through many, many political seasons. Each and every one marked by people claiming Christ, on both sides, living and longing for their own parties success as if the very existence of the "Kingdom" itself was being held in the balance. It occurred to me this morning immediately after realizing this that I am, and we are, really now about the same as we were then. I still pay too much in taxes, I still know too many people out of work, homeless, hungry. If anything, I'd have to say that we are worse off. How can this be? We've been through several cycles of each parties administrations and yet, here we are and no one has an answer, unless there are several special interest amendments to it. So here I sit...looking at these words to the original church... "Honor the emperor"...really? Weren't these the guys who were using followers of Jesus as street lights and sport? How much more set apart could you possibly be than honoring him? Where were the petitions and placards? Where were the boycotts? When I look up from my reading I see Christians and churches, from both sides of the political fence, lobbing verbal assaults and worse, continually during the reign of the other side. It is as if, through the sheer force of effort and resources, we could take this kingdom. Problem is, the pages of my copy of the Book of Books tells me that its not mine to take. So what is the solution? Are politics off the table? I don't think so. I'm going to vote...then whatever the outcome I plan on going to work for the kingdom that I was called to. In the past week I've witnessed people who claim the name of Jesus protesting both sides of the same issue. Each side should say that they are truly in tune with what Jesus would do? I'd have to humbly disagree. Jesus held many things in his hands...a political placard was not one of them. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing continuously and expecting different results. From where I sit, that has been the political strategy of both sides of the faithful fence for my lifetime at least. I propose something new. I propose that we "honor the emperor" whoever he or she may be. I propose that we trust God with the leadership choice and whatever judgment He may want to deal with while we live as citizens of a higher kingdom, loving unconditionally and sacrificially. I propose that we pursue holiness. That would once and for all truly set us apart.