Restoring ears, Loving neighbors

religionspoliticsSince everyone is offering their opinions, I beg your forgiveness for adding to the cacophony of chaotic chatter.  I do not, as a rule, comment politically in this format or on social media as I am convinced it often serves no real purpose or benefit. Perhaps it is not without some irony that I am posting this in the first place.  But over the last several months I have deeply troubled by the bitter antagonism and poisonous verbosity that has become the common quality of what goes as discourse, and now that the election is over I want to share thoughts that have been on my mind for quite some time.

Towards the end of the Gospel we are told that, when Jesus was arrested his disciple Peter, who apparently was not very skilled with the sword, attacked one of those in the arresting party cutting off his ear (John 18.10).  Jesus, we are told, rebuked peter for this and restored the man’s ear (Luke 22.51).  Now, as a Bible believing Christian I think this event actually took place.  But we would be blind if we miss another point.  Whenever force is used, be it, physical, military, legislative, or political to advance the cause of Christ, the cause of the Gospel, we cut the ears off of people, and render them deaf to our message.*  And what is Christ’s example here?  He rebukes the use of force, and then reaches out to touch and heal the ear of the one injured.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus actively avoided, and in a couple of cases outright rejected, political power as well a political expediency even when it ended up sending him to the Cross.  Why? Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  Indeed, he says in that same verse, if it were my servants would be fighting to keep me from being delivered over to be tried and executed.  This is nothing new for Jesus.  Much earlier, before beginning his ministry, he was tested in the wilderness.  The final test was this.  The Devil offered him all the kingdoms of the word and their glory, if you will worship me (Matthew 4:8-9).  We are given no reason to believe that this was an empty offer, in a sense anyway.  Ephesians 2:2 tells that the devil does have a certain authority on earth, though not beyond the sovereignty of God.  But Jesus rejects this offer as well.

It is clear from the Gospels that Jesus knew, rational individual that he was, that the task he had been given could never be accomplished through any form or show of power or coercion.  This is why we find him coming into the world as a helpless child, meek, gentle and full of compassion.  And so, I think this is part of the context of Ephesians 6:10-18 regarding the armor of God.  “For we do not fight against flesh and blood.”  What Paul is saying here is that, while we do fight indeed, the real fight is not political, social, legislative, etc.  As such, the manner and means by which we fight cannot be in those terms.  Now, this is not to say that our fight might not have implications in these areas, but these are fruits that grow out of the person of Jesus and who he has called his follower to be.  In short, they may be and end, but they certainly are not a means.

I do not presume to instruct or direct anyone here.  You, whoever you are reading this, I may know you personally, and I may not.  You may have seen my heart through my actions, and you may not.  You may or may not value my opinion or consider me worthy of offering it.  However, if you will suffer me my “half pence” here, it is this.  Whatever hope or expectation that one may have in electing this candidate or that in order that he or she might enact policy or appoint judges that will be supportive of “Christian” values and principles, or voice support and lobby for legislation to that same end in order that their own sensibilities and comfort are not aggravated, is, at best, misguided if not, if I may be so bold, outright contrary to the Gospel.  It is trusting in chariots and horses, fighting flesh and blood. Such efforts cannot succeed if the goal is the Gospel of Truth.

Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Whatever victory may be imagined from yesterday, was the fight the right one?  There are many who woke up this morning that are hurting, despairing, afraid, and feeling a more acute sense of marginalization.  Many of them, maybe most of them, are missing ears.  On the other side, there are many who awoke to with the fresh happiness of victory, hope, and a sense of triumph.  “No more of this!” Jesus said, and he touched his ear and healed him.  This is the real task now.  To reach out, with grace, tenderness, and real love.  To live Christ with grace and truth, not law. (John 1:17).

*I am borrowing the basis of this idea from Dr. John Lennox found in “Gunning For God” and in a lecture or two on YouTube.

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Posted in Apologetics

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