Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Energy

I just got done checking my yahoo mail account for the first time in a few days. I had 14 new messages and 8 of them were anti-Obama links. A few of them made some really good points that I am still tossing around in my head. The other links were to angry sites where Obama is ripped apart in some fashion or another. I must admit that I'm still trying to figure out who I am voting for (McCain, Obama, someone else, not at all), but one thing that I'm really getting tired of is the anger associated with someone's opinion of Barack. I was sent a link to a christian music artist's website where he ripped into Obama for his stance on abortion, gay marriage, etc. He made the case that he can't vote for Obama because he is a Christian. He shares the same view that, I believe, an overwhelming majority of American christians believe; that we must 'stand against' things that Jesus said was sinful; like it's our patriotic duty. Its an odd thing to really ponder, but most of us take a huge amount of Jesus-pride in the fact that we're trying to make sure that our societies aren't overcome with our opinion of sin and filth. I agreed with this up until only a few months ago. One thing that makes me question my motives when I go on a conservative, political, Jesus-endorsed tirade is my glaring hypocrisy in light of what I claim to believe to be the truth.

The thing that sticks out is my anger towards the people that support these issues. I understand what happens during an abortion procedure, and it is horrific to say the least. But we use our opposition to that issue as a place to take a 'moral stand' and I just don't see Jesus doing this. Did He ever teach us to get really angry at people who are sinning, personally attack the individual who is perpetrating the sin, and, when that person retaliates with vigor, respond with all levels of condemnation and vitriol. Does Jesus tell us to be patient and longsuffering, until someone spits in your face, and then its time to 'take a stand for Jesus'? To the contrary! I think that Jesus wants us to be different from everyone else. I think that he wants us to, not only love this person who is pro-abortion, but to care about them personally. I think that Jesus wants us to change that person's attitude by showing them the ridiculous love of their creator. That love is NEVER shown through self-righteous anger and condemnation. In our current political scene, that ideal lived out would look like us 'christians' treating Barack Obama with dignity and respect.

If we truly believe in an issue with as much passion as we christians seem to have in the issue of abortion, that would certainly be shown in our lives, right? If the single greatest issue of this campaign, above the war, poverty, the economy, foreclosures, terrorism, etc., truly is the 'sanctity of human life' then it wouldn't take an outsider more than a few minutes of observation to see that we live our lives around this ideal. But I don't see it people! If those unborn babies are so important to me that I get this angry, I must be contributing to the solution to back up that passion. I must be doing everything that I can to care for the babies that are born, right? It has to show up in my checkbook too. How much have I given of myself to causes that promote that same 'sanctity of life' and help out the woman who has made this courageous choice not to abort, but to deliver? Little to none, I would guess. Do I even know a woman who is struggling with this decision? Have I taken even an hour in the past year to show a young, single mother with no money and no positive influence in her life that she is valued, loved and supported for her decision? I would have to say that I haven't spent one hour in my entire life with that focus.

So why do we get so passionate about changing a law, when we obviously don't care enough about the people to give of our time and our treasure? Christ called us to be like him, to take up our cross and follow him. He said numerous times that to show Him love and worship, we are to care about the poor and the sick. His entire life was an example of that God-type of love that we are to show, without precondition, to others. He never said to get angry and to condemn; quite to the contrary actually. He said that love for our enemies would change the world. He said to be patient and kind, and I assume that this meant even when someone was obviously 'wrong' and putting it in our face. We in American Christendom take so much of our worth in Christ from our being right and others being wrong. But Christ never made being 'right' the issue. He said that we are to love others the way that He loves them. I think that our passion in making abortion illegal and keep homosexuals out of our society is actually based in a confusion of what God's Kingdom looks like and what the American Dream looks like. I would argue that most of our seemingly righteous anger about something like the abortion issue makes us feel good, like we're on the right side of things. It makes us feel better about the fact that our pursuit of cultural things; an education, a good career, a nice house, that new car, our yearly vacation, a comfortable retirement, etc., are taking up an insane majority of our time and money. Just how much time is spent on things that have nothing to do with the Kingdom, and yet we act like God is completely behind it? "God obviously wants me to provide a 'good life' for my family, right?" "Jesus knows that if my kids don't get a college education they won't be able to compete in today's economy, right?" "I can't work my whole life when everyone else gets to retire, right?" Somewhere we got the idea that, at the core of everything, God wants us to 'do well' in our own individual economic and cultural situations. So when our time is scarce and our money is tied up somewhere else, it makes us feel good to do some old fashioned moral crusading. We feel empowered and righteous; filled with the surety that we are doing God's work, certain of God's desire to rid our society of this filth!

That brings me to another conclusion. Where did we get the idea that God wants our societies to be free of sinful things like abortion and homosexual marriage in the first place? I've been trying to find out where in scripture Jesus told us to put our heart and soul into making sure that everyone around us knows that God hates abortion and homosexuality and doesn't want it in our communities. I can't find it anywhere. I actually think that this also a self-serving attitude! It seems to me that Jesus wants us to pour our lives into others, especially the lives of sinners, so that they will know the love of the God that created them. If someone is pro-abortion, its really meaningless because God loves the most militant abortion-rights activist every bit as much as He loves you and me. Getting rid of abortion through legislation is only getting rid of a symptom of a bigger problem! But we can't ever admit this because that would require us to make choices that restrict our lifestyle. And that just can't happen. Its so much easier to talk big than it is to give big. Talking big makes us feel wonderfully righteous; giving big might make us have to forego the house in Florida. If we truly believed in solving the problem for the sake of people and sought to live a life based around this truth, we would have to make concessions on the cultural and economical end. We'd have to live sacrificially, not for our own comfort, but for the benefit of all others. That may result in a life that doesn't look like the others in our housing development. We may not be able to go on vacations, or buy that huge new SUV, or take that promotion that will involve an additional 10 hours per week in addition to the additional $20,000 of income. It may involve becoming people who don't need or don't care about having such things. It may involve people becoming something radically different, set aside from culture, that would shake up the entire planet. I have heard people, in attempt to refute this idea, claim that they have done some sort of community service act to show their care for others. But when challenged with the question of whether or not that act was sacrificial and based out of deep love, there is not an affirmative response. Sorry, three hours in a soup kitchen once a year isn't a sacrifice. We are so quick to give our churches a pass on developing this heart of true compassion. We say that we're 'working on it', or that 'things are slowly getting better'. But we extend none of this grace to the people who aren't followers of Jesus in the outside-church world. Didn't Jesus call us to be critical of ourselves, holding each other to a higher standard, while not judging the world around us? We've gotten this backwards and yet we're so sure that we're right.

This is the life that I see Jesus inviting us towards in the Gospels; one where our response to abortion is to become a countercultural, Jesus-like solution to the problem, or to shut up and reevaluate where our priorities are. One where we see how truly controlled we are by our own pursuits, and see how great we have been at creating a Jesus-America hybrid that allows us to seek comfort for ourselves while mostly ignoring the real call of the King. I, for one, am tired of being that American christian who act as though he wields the truth of God, and lives another life completely. Here's something that I think is true: If I've spent more money on a car this year than I have on direct assistance to the poor, I have no moral leg to stand on. If that is true, my life and my faith are not in sync, and any anger that I have for another individual for their particular views should be overshadowed by my disgust with myself.

6 comments:

John said...

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814


I get tired of people thinking that the U.S. was created as a Christian Nation "Under God" (Which wasn't inserted into the pledge until the 1950s during McCarthyism.

When you read the works of the founding fathers you'll see that many were deists that were genuinely afraid of the grasp religion could have on government.

We really should try to keep our political beliefs and religious beliefs seperate.

Smeedog said...

Dan, couldn't agree with you more. Heidi and I have been having a lot of discussions centered around this very topic, I am so glad both us have changed since our days of sitting around listening to Michael Savage, Jesus is a much better advice giver!!!!

MiKemple said...

"the Kingdom of God is at hand"... thank you for sharing your thoughts my friend. Very well said.
Let's seek first the Kingdom of God...maybe then we will know what true righteousness, peace and joy look like.
Less of me, more of Jesus...

Cory said...

Don't forget many Christians will use Jesus' clearing of the temple as their right to "righteous anger". It's funny to me how much the church focuses on two sins when the Bible clearly teaches their are at least seven "deadly" ones. How bout we all go around bashing fat people and lazy people and prideful people...oh yeah and angry people. :) You challenge me bro. I love it. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go get a latte.

david said...

Good words, Dan.

Smeedog said...

Dan, you know how I feel about this topic, my heart crys out to be "Counter Cultural", it scares the crap out of me though, because it is so different than I have been living for the past 27 years of my life!!! Pray for me that I can put those fears to rest!!