Grief: A Week Later – My 4th and final blog on the matter!

18 11 2016

grief

The election was over a week ago, and I think I’m finally ready to begin to move on! Am I still sad? Of course! But have I lost faith in this country, or the Church of Jesus Christ here in America – the Church to which I have given my life? Not a chance! And so as my anger subsides, my purpose in writing shifts from being a vehicle wherein I give vent to my frustrations, to an instrument that perhaps all of us can use to respond to the presidential election of 2016 in a manner that might allow God to bring light out of this frightening darkness.

The questions that I’ve been asking for seven days now are important for all of us to consider, but particularly those of us who claim to follow Jesus. What are we going to do in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, in response to the blatant misogyny, xenophobia, and bigotry of President-elect Trump? And should his followers continue to spout hatred for Blacks, the LGBTQ community, and Muslim refugees, how are we going to stand with those being marginalized? What is the appropriate response to a president whose careless political rhetoric has led immigrants to feel unsafe in their homes, children to worry about the fate of their parents, and women to feel objectified and disrespected? How will we resist one who threatens to undue the rights of the gay and lesbian community, who speaks (and tweets) from a place of anger and insecurity, and who displays a showmanship reserved for celebrities, not statesmen?

Fortunately, there ARE all kinds of answers to these questions; and here are just a few to consider!

1) We no longer allow the voice of the “Evangelical Christian” to be the loudest voice in the Christian community. For too long they have believed they have the corner on the market of Christian orthodoxy. But here’s the thing. Jesus doesn’t give a rip about our version of doctrinal faithfulness! He made that very clear when he said that we will be known by our fruits. And the rejection of the alien refugee or immigrant, the judgment of the gay man and the prejudice against the lesbian woman, the denial of America’s bias against Black teenage boys, or the Indigenous-American grandmother: none of that is fruit! It’s certainly not the fruit of the Spirit! But such attitudes abound today, and all because of misguided views about God, and a blind allegiance to a nation believed to be ‘exceptional!’ So we need to stand beside those who preach such lies, and speak just as loudly and passionately, in order to make it clear to all the world that this is not the Gospel of the Jesus that we know, nor the Gospel to which the Bible gives testimony.

2) We continue to care for the lost and least, but with greater vigilance and passion than ever. We let the world know that Jesus’ love was and is for all people; and that what makes God’s grace so amazing is that no boundaries can be placed upon it. The ‘way’ of Jesus – the way of goodness, and kindness, and compassion, and mercy – is the way of life to which we are all called. And as long as you are living that ‘way’, then it doesn’t matter whether you are a lesbian or a Muslim, a communist or a hippie, a church-goer or a church-avoider! We will unite with minority communities, people of color and those with differing abilities, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or social standing, and together we will continue to build the ‘kin’dom of God in our world. Jesus makes it clear in Luke that those who are not against us, are with us. And so we will unite with anyone and everyone who seeks the ways of Christ, and together, arm in arm and hand in hand, we will change the world for the glory of God.

3) We boldly challenge patterns in American life that simply contradict the ways of God. We love this country as much as the flag-carrying evangelical and their calling us un-American for simply not being afraid to point out national sin must never silence us. We must always stand with any President who acts in ways that honor and glorify God; and we must always challenge any President whose leadership violates the law and the love of God. Every one of us needs to work harder in moving our world to that place where “God’s will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!’ Our hearts need to be broken by the very same things that break the heart of God: poverty, mass incarceration, hunger, war, gun violence, and yes . . . climate change. God gave us a mind and it’s not a sin to use it, Jesus’ very life was all about the ongoing renewal of those minds.

4) And lastly, we must stop being afraid to talk politics in our churches. The Gospel is social, and so it will always be political; and “political correctness” is little more than avoiding language and actions that demean, marginalized, or disrespect others. This is precisely what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus; and so we must no longer be afraid to tackle the difficult political issues of our day. All Americans should, and all Christ-followers must: stand on the side of anyone whose life is being threatened, judged, demeaned, or debased! And we do this NOT because we are seeking to bolster one political party over another, but because this is the life and the ministry to which Jesus calls us. It’s what Christ and Christianity are to be about; and the Christ and the Christianity to which so many evangelicals hold America captive, is one that Jesus himself would never recognize.

To many reading this, my words have been harsh – I know that! But I cannot edit my feelings any more than I already have. My emotions are strong and real, and buried within are truths that I believe need to be shared. So to my Republican friends, please know that I greatly respect your opinions and perspectives on a variety of issues. As I’ve communicated in other posts, I believe that “iron sharpens iron” and that the strength of a Democracy can be determined by the presence and the intensity of good, healthy, and intelligent dialogue. So if I have offended you during this election season, please forgive me. My intent has never been to in anyway criticize ALL Republicans, but to simply challenge the words and the agenda of a branch of the GOP that I believe to be extremely dangerous, destructive, and deceitful; as well as the leader of that branch of the party for his hateful, dishonest, disrespectful, and arrogant behavior.

I am also well aware that evangelicals are not a monolith! I have many faithful Christian friends with whom I disagree on matters like abortion, war, capital punishment, the death with dignity movement, and other important, controversial, and morally complex matters facing us in this 21st century. But there are far too many evangelicals – many of whom are quick to tell me that I have left the faith – who themselves have abandoned the truth of the Gospel. And so all of us have a responsibility to hold one another accountable to Christ! Mission is so much more than just preparing a casserole for the shelter, or collecting food for the local food pantry. Such “mercy ministries” are indeed important, but they can never excuse us from the equally important task of seeking justice. And that means putting aside our ‘white savior’ complex, moving beyond mercy, and working to transform any and all systems that continue to create a need for shelters and food pantries.

Finally, someone asked me recently ‘who I thought I was,’ arrogantly ‘pontificating’ to people in my blogs, making it sound as though I had all the wisdom and knowledge needed to solve all the problems of the world. It was not asked in that exact way, but that was the gist of it. So just in case any of you who have been following my posts over the past week have found yourself asking that same question, let me close with this. I think my witness over the last 10-15 years has been a testimony to NOT thinking that I had all the answers. There are many paths in this life, and more than one of them takes us up the mountain. There are a variety of ways to think and believe, and many of them can and do lead to life, health, wholeness, peace, and justice, and yes, even into the very heart of what I believe to be God. But I am also passionate about the message of Jesus; and my faith in him is one that demands that I be willing to speak the truth as I know it to power, and that I seek to listen to voices that have been for too long silenced. It demands that I advocate for the poor and the marginalized, that I not be afraid to challenge the status quo when ‘what is’ falls short of all that it ‘might be’, and most importantly, that I do it all in love.

So if I’ve failed in that, forgive me. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, I am merely attempting to do what I believe we should all be doing, and that is: whatever we can, with whatever we have, wherever we are! And I would add: “always and only, to the honor and glory of God.”

Peace!

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One response

18 11 2016
presbygal

Sometimes when folks are concerned about others pontificating, it has to do with their own discomfort. Heck, I’m not comfortable when confronted with my own stuff. Preach on, my friend. It’s needed.

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