Grief: Day 3

17 11 2016


It doesn’t feel like Friday. Usually on Fridays I have a sense of relief; like I can stop and breathe again! But that’s not what I’m feeling today, three days after the election. Rather, it feels like someone is sitting on my chest; like I can’t get enough air into my lungs to sustain the life that is within me. And if I sit still too long, and allow myself to think about what has happened, I want to vomit. And I am still . . . oh, so, sad!

I’m also remain very angry; and because my primary identity is that of a follower of Jesus, as well as a pastor, I’m finding that a good bit of my anger is being directed toward my own brothers and sisters – those who say they claim the same faith as I do, but whose version of Christianity I simply do not recognize. You see this election has forced me to finally acknowledge and publically admit that the ‘oneness’ Jesus preached is not about a oneness in belief, but a oneness in behavior.

God has placed us all in the human family – one great race, the human race – and the Spirit of Christ exists in each and every one of us. And that ‘divine spark’ makes each and every human being a brother or a sister. This is where Jesus meant us to find our unity and our oneness; and I never want to deny that.

But as far as the unity of the Church goes, that oneness we’re told is uniquely found in the person of Jesus? . . . well, if it exists at all, it can no longer be attributed to all those who merely profess their faith in Him . . . at least not in the same way we have traditionally understood that profession of faith!

What I have discovered is that I often have far more in common with some of my Muslim and ‘NONE’ friends than I do with members of my own Christian denomination! For I know too many people who tritely claim to have ‘invited Jesus into their hearts’, and who with benign roteness repeated the words of the ‘sinners prayer’, but who have absolutely no real understanding of what it means to be ‘born again.’ Consequently, they remain unaware of how their attitudes and actions deny the very faith that their lips profess. They believe what they’re told to believe; and they belittle and belie knowledge and education, particularly in matters of faith, as if using the minds that God has given them is akin to some kind of religious idolatry or heresy.

You see, I know these people. In fact I used to be one of these people. And so when I hear them having their quaint Bible studies at Starbucks, while impressed by their passion and enthusiasm, I cringe at the nonsense they feed the lost and lonely souls they’ve targeted, offering trite and simplistic answers to every complex question that comes their way. How many of us have to listen to these people wrap the Gospel in the American flag, and distort it so that it might better fit a version of America that is akin to the very myths of power and empire that Jesus railed against every day of his life? We sit with these people every day, and everywhere – at lunch, in class, at work – and we make pathetic small talk, avoiding issues that really matter, because to talk about anything of substance would only make them look more spiritually bankrupt and relationally bigoted than we all already know them to be!

We sit, and we listen, and we hear . . . all the time; and for the sake of peace, we keep our mouths shut, and allow the naiveté of their faith to go unchecked and their spiritual ignorance to go unchallenged. And in so doing, we forget that there will never be any peace, where there is no justice.

So today, and from now on, the words and actions of these people need to be called out for what they are – disrespectful, abusive, mean-spirited, and yes, even deplorable. And lest there be any misunderstanding about what that last word actually means, let me define it. Deplorable means “deserving of condemnation.” And that is the only way to describe the faith that so many evangelicals are shoving into the face of the America I love.

After Tuesday’s election I am more convinced than ever that the Church of Jesus Christ must stand up and boldly say that deplorable words and actions have no place in the community of faith. And telling us to ‘unite’ behind those whose actions and behavior are in direct opposition to the ways of Jesus is simply not helpful. For if that had indeed been the practice of the church for the past 2000 years, Apartheid would never have fallen in South Africa, Nazism would have spread throughout Europe, and slavery would not have been abolished here in America. we can and will accept the reminders that even those who voted differently that we did are part of the human family. And we will work hard to try and work and live together in peace. But we WILL never . . . we CAN never . . . embrace that which is not of God.

The Church has always been willing and able to work with elected officials that we have not supported in the past; but this year, it is different. We are unwilling to do what you have done; namely, excuse and overlook that which is not of God, in order to win an election. We know full well that not all of you are . . . sexist xenophobes; but you have embraced and normalized someone who is! And that is the source of our grief and sadness. It’s not that our candidate lost, or even that yours won. The source of our grief and sadness is that you embraced clear and obvious racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and so much more of what we all know to be nothing short of unGodliness, all for the sake of your political agenda. And the sadness of that reality is far more devastating for the Church, than Donald Trump will ever be for America.



4 responses

17 11 2016

I woke up this morning looking for this post. Keeping the faith.

17 11 2016

Obviously never listened to John ortberg or Bill hybels. And many others. You’re guilty of what u charge

17 11 2016
Bob Melone

Most certainly have; unfortunately most evangelicals either have not, or have and ignored them!

18 11 2016
The Laughing Redhead

Amen and amen! Thanks so much for having the insight and boldness to say this so clearly. It needs to be said and heard, over and over – millions of times, actually . . .

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