This week’s reflection has nothing to do with President Trump. Not directly. But the title merely serves to make my point — you either immediately agree with the title or your immediately disagree. There is no middle ground, and this is where I am in the whole political climate here in the US. There is no middle ground. And everything that happens, and I mean everything, evokes an emotional response that is either angry or arrogant, depending on which side your standing. This is true for me and everyone I know. No exceptions, we are so terribly polarized.
Yet Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” and “give to anyone who begs from you.” Alas, I have come to realize that Jesus didn’t mean it. It’s too hard. And he didn’t understand that here in America, whichever side you’re on, we know better than that. Jesus was misinformed when he issued new, impossible-to-follow guidelines.
So when Jesus came, and God essentially said,
Here’s how it’s going to be going forward. Jesus is going to tell you about living by faith, that works come from faith, that it is your heart that matters. He’s going to tell you about new ways of living and thinking and praying. The ways I have always wanted you to follow. Some things you won’t fathom, but that’s no surprise because you humans are just as stubborn and arrogant as you have always been. No really, you have not changed. And get this, 2000 years from now, the things around you will be very different (you’ll have things like the Internet and nuclear power and airplanes and penicillin), But your hearts? Well, they’ll be just as cold and stubborn as ever. And you know all that stuff about loving your enemies, and turning the other cheek? You’ll rationalize it. No really, you’ll find ways to build walls and to justify actions based on snippets of scripture that were never intended to be interpreted as you will do, and your political affiliations, believe it or not, will be the primary relationship you have with the world despite who you say follow.
I think what’s going on here is that God has been radically wrong. He didn’t get it then, and He does not get it now. I can’t forgive my enemies. And really, my enemies are evil people. I can’t listen to them. And make no mistake, they are enemies because we have divergent views of what America — and the world — should be. I side with those I agree with and ridicule those whom I do not agree.
It’s a terrible place to be. And I don’t see a path forward. The best thing I have been able to figure out is this — don’t pay attention to the political drama. In fact, for the last two weeks, I ignored the news. I took a break. And I felt a whole lot better. And an inkling of hope came to my mind too.
Oh yes. What God intends for us? God does not intend for humans to rationalize and interpret the world using our intuition. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your insight.” And that is absolutely the best consolation I have. It’s private and is in many ways between God and me. The sad and immensely frustrating truth of the 21st century is that people interpret that Kingdom in so many different ways, molding theology and prayer to their world view. Clearly, I need to get back to a God-centered worldview.
The hard and immensely important and critical thing for me as a Christian is to focus on what the Kingdom means, and not to allow the distractions of the world to detract from real Kingdom building. But it’s a daily battle. And a daily challenge to focus on His Word and to pray and to show hospitality in all situations. And to be obedient. Obedient to this, in Jesus’ words:
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”