For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. – Ephesians 2:14-16
I’ve been almost tongue-tied lately. There is so much I want to say – and yet have felt that my voice does not matter. That maybe I have even lost my voice – or never had one. It’s like whispering into a gale-force wind. Like millions of other bloggers, hack theologians or amateur cultural commentators, I am no one of importance. Simply one more voice riding on the wings of the internet’s second age. I am casting words like seeds into the whirlwind of the world-wide web – letting God use them where He will. And so, like most of you, I speak to no one – and yet to everyone. What a strange time to be human.
It is also a difficult time to stay human. As I take in the concussive force of current news headlines and taste the rage within me and around me I wonder how long a boiling pot can keep it’s contents before it begins to burn down and consume itself. I know these are perilous times – and I know these times are no different than any other age in human experience. But for us, these are the only times we know – and so we must sort through the issues of our day – while still maintaining basic human decency. This apparently is near to impossible for even the most Christian among us – who of us has not scorched others in online debate?
I have watched with great concern as my fellow conservative evangelical Christians have helped give birth to a new, seemingly “anointed” political leader here in the U.S. I have watched a number of friends breathe a sigh of joy and relief that somehow God has been restored to the halls of government and that national restoration is waiting in the wings. There has been no shortage of political prophecies, if you are into that sort of thing. But these days, when prophets are so concerned with profits – even presidential prayers sound more like empty speeches. While God looks on and peers into our whitewashed hearts.
I see this all and sit in silence – not knowing what to do or how to act. Watching the rise and fall of the raging waters – protestors marching, hate speech leveled at hate speech. Rage fired off like missiles in an echo chamber at any number of traumas or injustices. Political flames burning hotter and hotter. It’s a deadlock. Like two great beasts locked in mortal battle, horns entangled – struggling from Left to Right. A house divided cannot stand. These two beasts, tethered to the pillars, will tear the house to pieces. And then others will rebuild. The bones of past conflicts become the foundations of each new iteration of the house.
But not all is lost. As our nation wrestles through issues of what is legitimate authority(?), what is the proper balance of power(?), and what makes for unity(?) – it is a primed ground for disciples of Jesus to model a different way. The cross of Jesus – must become a way of life for us. Laying down our lives in sacrificial communities. This is where we model how Jesus redefines these three questions – of authority, power and unity. The Body of Christ, for too long, has merely modeled the world in it’s creation of massive governance structures. Whether it’s a large denomination or an individual congregation we have been shaped by the world’s politics – a kind of politics where we struggle for ascendancy over one another – where we have learned to rule over one another.
Our nation cannot be conformed to the Gospel by political power – if anything is to change it must change with Christians leaving behind the cycles of rage and self-righteousness and instead dismantle the ways we have conformed to the patterns of the fallen world system – we must be conformed again to the likeness of Christ. Our present American order is built on ‘the pursuit of happiness’ – the future relevance of Christian faith in America hangs on the reclaiming of our pursuit of Jesus and His way of the cross. Sacrificial community, centered on Jesus and His Gospel of the kingdom, is the order of the day. It is the anti-dote of the fires of this present time – and of this present age. All other false forms of Christianity will, and must, fall to ruins.
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