For he himself is our peace...
God, how could this happen? That’s what some of you are thinking right now. Others are exclaiming, “Thank God! What a disaster that would have been!”
I don’t actually know what happened. I decided to write this on Monday before it all went down. Likely, we still don't know who the next leader of our country will be. But those above thoughts are on the way, regardless.
I don’t want to do creative writing today. I don’t want to be witty or eloquent. I want to think about how we keep our souls in this moment.
Nearly every one of you reading this lives in the United States. And I know everyone reading this would like to see our country thrive. But whether you are pleased or discouraged by the outcome, there are things have haven’t changed. Now, I am not for a moment suggesting that it doesn’t matter who is leading. It does. Many lives will be affected by who is in the White House for the next few years. Both policies and leadership attitudes will have real impact on the people of this country and beyond. But. Some. Things. Haven’t. Changed.
America is still not the kingdom of God. It wasn’t in 2012. Or 2016. And it’s not in 2020.
America is still not the hope of the world. That role has already been filled.
President ________________ is not our Lord or Savior in any way, despite any claims that he or anyone else makes about him.
If you think that because the right guy got elected (or will soon), that all is well in the world….. you’re wrong.
If you think that because the wrong guy got elected (or will soon), that there is no hope in the world….. you’re also wrong.
By all means, it's ok to be discouraged or be pleased, for a few minutes.
And then return to your calling.
Our work remains the same as it did in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019…. well, you get it.
Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)
Forgive our enemies. Love our neighbors. (Matt 5:44/22:39)
Practice hospitality. Welcome the stranger. (Romans 12:13)
Keep ourselves from being polluted by the powers of the world. (James 1:27)
Wash each other’s feet. (John 13:14)
Give to those in need. (Acts 2:45)
Do not work for food that spoils, but food that endures to eternal life. (John 6:27)
Grasp that the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, free or in chains... is the peace of Christ. (Phil 4:12)
Live as citizens of the Kingdom of God and God’s ambassadors in the kingdom of America. (Phil 3:20)
I’m tired. The compounding factors of this season have taken more out of me personally, and many of you, than possibly any other season in our lives. Tears flow pretty regularly these days. And it’s not over, not at all. But our energy comes from God, and our hope remains in God. And that is where the strength continues to come from to live faithfully in a world divided. Empires rise and fall. It happened with Babylon, Persia, and Rome. The US is not exempt from history. Yet we live with the knowledge that we are citizens of an unshakeable kingdom- a kingdom that has given hope and perseverance to generations across history and across the globe with far more difficult experiences than most of us have ever experienced. God is faithful and will continue to work in our world- in and through us, and sometimes in spite of us (thank God).
So I ask you right now- beg you, actually, to be known by the characteristics of Jesus, and not the pseudo-Christian identities of right or left. It's not that good and kingdom-like things can't happen through political action (they can), it's that the third way of Jesus transcends tribalism and protectionism. It moves toward working for love and justice and integrity that speaks truth to all sides. And it rejects the notion that the only way to change things is to have all of the power. We cannot read the temptations of Jesus and somehow believe that “our party" (yuck) in the white house is the main way that the kingdom of God will advance.
Remember, Jesus’ political platform was a wooden cross.
Christians have joined in some unholy alliances, and we must walk carefully. As Tony Campolo said of a Christianity that becomes enmeshed too closely with political allegiance… it’s like mixing ice cream and manure. It doesn’t do much to the manure… but it sure ruins the ice cream.
So friends, neither gloat nor despair as you consider your feelings on how our government ought to function and who our latest Caesar is. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God’s (Mark 12:17). You know what Jesus meant with that, right? Caesar can have his money and power with his image imprinted on it. It will eventually be worthless. But God’s image is imprinted on your very bodies and souls. You belong to God. Never forget that- and give yourselves fully and completely to the work of God in your life. God has placed his image on something far more valuable than anything our government could give or take away. You are sacred to God. So is your neighbor. So is your enemy.
Come, Lord Jesus.