'Tis that season again - and no, it's not the season to be jolly. Everyone is frowning, exasperated, a little ticked off or disturbed. Two weeks of nightly conventions are ending, and it would be hard to say we are better people, or holier, because the conventions have happened. Both parties try to outdo one another in negativity, and all the invective only feeds our inner darkness and sharpens our anger. Fear, dread, and a sense of dislocation sprawl in and between us like kudzu.
How does a Christian stay calm, find some spiritual equilibrium, and make sense of it all? God isn't delighted by politics in the United States - but then what does God see in me? It's a bit of a test, a stiff challenge, to be a follower of Jesus right now. You can withdraw - but Jesus clearly asks us to engage our world. You can get drawn into this side or that side's spitting contest. You can get surly in front of the TV and dash off a Facebook retort. You can say "religion and politics don't mix" - but if we can't talk about God and God's interest in these things that clearly matter so much, then maybe God isn't relevant to anything at all. Perhaps, if we are humble and open, God can show us "a more excellent way" (as Paul introduced his famous "love" chapter, 1 Corinthians 13).
"For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16) - and yes, that would be this world, the one in which we find ourselves mired, annoyed, confused, and yet strangely hopeful. I don't know many people who've just given up. We cling to some glimmer of optimism deep inside that maybe, just maybe, things will get better, that something good will somehow come out of it all. Maybe for the nation, maybe locally - and maybe just in me.
Between now and election day, I would like to talk about religion, politics, and the state of the soul. How do Christians sort things out and interact with a raging culture in a holy, constructive way? Does God care about the results of the election? Are there genuinely Christian issues and positions? How would we know? Can you read these emails and trust me without getting angry at me? J
Let's pray together, for our world but also for our souls - and hope that these times together, sharing these emails, might bring some healing, hope, and even holy engagement with this world God created, and is more eager to save than we are to have it saved.