Our Hope Is Built on Nothing Less…

A few thoughts on the election…

-My candidate for President didn’t win, but the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota was defeated.  Three other states, Maine, Maryland and Washington all voted in favor of legalizing same sex marriage.  Personally, I think it’s a great move forward in gay rights.  That said, I think we need to be mindful of those in our neighborhood and moreso in our pews who faithfully disagree on this issue.  As much as I disagree with him, Rod Dreher’s blog post this morning should be read as how social conservatives feel about the changing climate.  They are fearful of having to give up what they believe is a moral belief.  It behooves those of us who favor same-sex marriage, especially those of us in the church, to reach out to these folks with openess and love and not just dismiss them. I think we have to do this for two reasons: one, because we are Christians and  two, because the most dangerous animal is one that is backed into a corner.

If Rod Dreher’s post is a good read of what social conservatives are feeling, the Tony Jones’ post is probably what a lot of progressive Christians are feeling this morning.  I’m all for calling a spade a spade, but I also think that there are times we need to be the “bigger man” and learn to be gracious in our victory.  How we win is just as important as how we lose.

I also think Jones’ rationale that putting same sex marriage on the ballot was cynical is a bit shortsighted.  I think the legislators and the religious groups that supported the amendment actually believe that gay marriage is wrong.  I don’t think they were trying to divide the electorate, whatever that means.

-Conservative political commentator Matt Lewis is spot on when he says the GOP needs modernization and not moderation.  One the things they need to modernize is their immigration policy.  I don’t think their stance was born of bigotry or racism, but I do think a lot of Latinos saw it that way.  Yes, we need to have tougher enforcement, but we also need to do something with the 12 million people who are in the country illegally.  We can’t send them all back, and we can’t hope they will “self-deport.”  We need to find some way to make them citizens of the United States.  This is one place where evangelical Christians could use their clout and push for a humane immigration policy.

-On Sunday, I preached about the fact that Jesus, not Obama and not Romney, is our Hope.  Christ is the final hope expressed in the closing chapters of Revelation, not a political agenda.  Scot McKnight talks about this in a blog post this morning.  Here’s a sample:

Somewhere overnight or this morning the eschatology of American Christians may become clear. If a Republican wins and the Christian becomes delirious or confident that the Golden Days are about to arrive, that Christian has an eschatology of politics. Or, alternatively, if a Democrat wins and the Christian becomes delirious or confident that the Golden Days are about to arrive, that Christian too has an eschatology of politics. Or, we could turn each around, if a more Democrat oriented Christian becomes depressed and hopeless because a Repub wins, or if a Republican oriented Christian becomes depressed or hopeless because a Dem wins, those Christians are caught in an empire-shaped eschatology of politics…

Where is our hope? To be sure, I hope our country solves its international conflicts and I hope we resolve poverty and dissolve our educational problems and racism. And I hope we can create a better economy. But where does my hope turn when I think of war or poverty or education or racism? Does it focus on my political party? Does it gain its energy from thinking that if we get the right candidate elected our problems will be dissolved? If so, I submit that our eschatology has become empire-shaped, Constantinian, and political. And it doesn’t matter to me if it is a right-wing evangelical wringing her fingers in hope that a Republican wins, or a left-wing progressive wringing her fingers in hope that a Democrat wins. Each has a misguided eschatology…

We are tempted to divide the USA into the good and the bad and to forget that the gospel has folks on both sides of political lines. Even more: we are tempted to think that the winners of the election are those who are blessed by God when the blessing of God is on God’s people. God’s gospel-powered mission creates a new people, the church, where we are to see God’s mission at work. Therein lies our hope.

I think this is something to be aware of, if not repent of.  Christians of all political stripes are always tempted to place God in the seat of earthly power.  We confuse an earthly kingdom with God’s kingdom.  Our hope as Christians doesn’t lie in “Obamacare” or Social Security or tax cuts or defense spending.  It has to lie in the name of the One who has liberated all of creation through his life, death and resurrection.

Finally, blogger Michael Kruse touches on the whole rhetoric of “empire,” and how those Christians who used that term to describe the administration of George W. Bush seem okay with the empire when it provides health care and other social programs and especially when their guy is in office:

As I have watched this election, my mind has gone back just a few years ago to when left-leaning Christians were preaching about America and Empire. As I follow social media, how curious it is to see many of those same Christians who embraced that critique in delirious joy over the inauguration the latest “Emperor.” It confirms much of what I suspected all along. The critique was partisan, not prophetic.

Earlier this year, I blogged about what constitutes being prophetic (you can read the posts here and here).  I still think a lot of what passes for prophetic speech, especially in mainline Protestant churches, is nothing more than a liberal political agenda dressed up in religious garb.  I still would like to know what it means to be prophetic.

What are your thoughts?

Graphic: An image created by Minnesotans United for All Families, the main group working to the defeat the marriage amendment in Minnesota.

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