Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

Brilliant.

Ahhh, satire.  You are a shrewd and honest lady.  (ht)

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jesus / Obama

I’ve admitted a number of times that Barack Obama’s rhetoric of changing the world, creating a new world, bringing hope to the world, etc., stirs me a little inside.  I’m stirred because that’s what I want.  I live by the idealistic mantra that “another world is possible.”  That the world is broken, but slowly and surely, it is being put back together.

My problem, however, with Barack Obama is this: He doesn’t point to the Risen Lamb as the source of this new world.

His religious rhetoric implies that he views Jesus as the supporting actor for the real leading lady, politics.  I don’t doubt that his faith in God is real, but I simply don’t think he’s asking the question, “How would society be different if God were running the show, not man?”

Furthermore, as the linked article above satirically points out (along with magazine covers, news reports, and daily conversations with Obamites), many people view Barack — consciously or subconsciously — as a sort of savior figure.  As if one man could really bring about the kind of “new world” he preaches.  Christians, especially, should know that this is impossible.

But, like the Israelites, many Christians on both the Left and the Right are yelling, “Give us a king to lead us!

From time to time, when I hear an especially stirring Obama speech, I can find myself yearning for such a one.  Lord, forgive us.

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Christian Politics, Rd. 5: Civility

Where I would hope all Christians agree regarding American politics is in communicating with each other in a civil way.  With everyone, even if they have a different take on the most important issue to you. All Christian speech is seasoned with salt, edifying, and spoken in love.  This is a given.

Or so one would think.

Christians have led political assaults on the character of political rivals for decades in America.  Left-wing, right-wing, and all wings in the middle.  In recent years, one of the most frequently used media with which to launch these character assaults is the Internet, and specifically e-mail forwards.  Many people are beginning to see an influx of these e-mail forwards, which slander the character of the Presidential candidates unabashedly.  (remember the string of e-mails questioning Obama’s patriotism because of the photo to the right?)  One must not understimate how effective these e-mails are in creating doubt in the minds of undecided voters and angering and re-energizing the party’s base.

But they are sinful.

My dad forwarded me a different kind of e-mail today. It was a message a friend of my dad’s sent to everyone in his e-mailbox, specifically regarding the kind of hateful political speech that I’m talking about here.  Here’s a snippet:

One of the things that I notice is that no matter where you might fall on the political spectrum there are voices that operate without love, compassion or willingness to be involved in productive conversation.  Some voices are so strident that they will resort to any tactics whatsoever to win political points regardless of whether or not those tactics are constructive or even true.
So, I have one request of each of you this election campaign and that is this:

Please don’t send me any politically themed email forwards.

We all get them.  Liberals send them out blasting the conservatives.  Conservatives denouncing the liberals.  Over the next four months everything possible under the sun will be said about both Senators McCain and Obama.
And I really don’t need to read them.
So, I ask you.  Remove me from those forward lists.  I’m willing to dialogue with people but I really don’t want to participate in the internet culture of character assassination and vicious rumor-mongering.

He goes on to say that “politics can bring out the worst in all of us.”  Amen to that.  We must all — especially those of us who say “Jesus is Lord … not Caesar” — acknowledge our propensity to let the political circus expose our darkness.  And if we choose to participate, can we at least agree to let our speech bear witness to the love of Christ?

Christian Politics, round 4: Power & Weakness

I’ve been told that there are two subjects you never bring up at a dinner party: politics and religion.  This series of posts combines those taboo topics, potentially creating the perfect conversational hurricane.  But I’m happy to report that most of you have conducted yourselves in a civil manner, bringing up tough, thoughtful questions and conversing in a Christlike manner.  For that, thanks.

We’re going through 1 Corinthians in our faith group on Sundays.  Last week, in studying 1 Cor. 9, we stumbled upon the oft recited but seldom understood Pauline passages toward the end of the chapter:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Someone insightfully made the point that in verse 22, Paul doesn’t balance out his statement about becoming weak to win the weak by saying, “and to the strong I became strong.”  One would think he’d do this, but he doesn’t.  He makes specific mention of weakness and becoming weak, implying that in weakness, we best share in the blessings of the gospel. (it says similar things elsewhere in the NT)

Someone else brought up that this passage mirrors what Paul says about Jesus in Philippians 2: that Jesus “made himself nothing,” “made himself a servant,” “became obedient to death … on a cross” and was therefore “exalted to the highest place.”  This is the most orthodox image of Jesus that we have … that of God made flesh / humble / weak / servant, and that of self-sacrificial love.  What a powerful thought! (on a related note, check out my friend Mark’s post about Jesus: Enemy of the State … good stuff)

It seems to me that between clamoring to elect the right kind of king to create the society we want and jockeying for positions of power in Washington D.C., Christians on the left and the right have lost focus of this most central of Christian doctrine.  That in the kingdom of God, small is big.  Weak is strong.  Poor is rich.  Humble service brings exultation. Mustard seeds can move mountains.

And so on, and so forth.

What if political action was prophetic, not just challenging the issues that oppose the kingdom of God but also the very systems and processes that do as well?  What if, instead of engaging in a broken system to enact miniscule change, we began to utilize our God-given “prophetic imagination” (thanks, Walter Brueggeman) to think up creative, subversive political statements and action?  What if our very lifestyles were a prophetic political statement to our neighborhoods, cities, and the empire in which we reside?

I ate lunch with my good friend Brian today.  We have lunch once a week, usually, and often wind up talking about some aspect of the kingdom of God.  Today, naturally, we talked about the Christian political imagination.  He mentioned the fact that lots of books have been written recently and even conferences held about why men aren’t interested in church.  What if, he suggested, men aren’t interested in church or Christianity because churches don’t do anything exciting?  What if men (and I would add women to the mix here as well) desire action, adventure, risk — even discomfort — in a community of faith?  Not to say this kind of lifestyle would be popular or easy or win massive converts, but I think a sense of mission, calling, adventure, action, change — whatever active word you want to put there — is just what the church needs.

Indeed, what if the life of the Christian was anything but safe pew-sitting, but was a radical, prophetic, POLITICAL display for all the world to see?

Where can I sign up for that?