I woke up today with politics on my mind. Actually, with Psalm 23, Isaiah 53, Psalm 1, and Martin Luther’s theology of the cross on my mind.
It started when I went to sleep last night with a problem on my mind.
- How am I to live as a citizen of the USA in a world that feels increasingly hostile, thanks to things happening right here in the USA, not simply ‘over there.’
Yet my problem isn’t the USA. This isn’t about my country right or wrong. It’s not even about this or that political party right or wrong. It’s about me as a follower of Jesus.
So here’s where I am this morning.
Psalm 23 reminds me that my Creator is my shepherd—one of the lowly, despised, mocked ‘lowlife’ who remains focused and loyal to the flock no matter what. Through thick and thin. Trusting. What a foolish thing to do, right? We all know the enemy is lurking.
Martin Luther’s theology of the cross reminds me that the cross is not a beautiful piece of art or jewelry. It’s real. It’s bloody. It’s lonely. It’s brutal. And it happened to the best of persons. Only by way of crucifixion do we see the cost, determination, love and steely focus of this man Jesus of Nazareth. The embodiment of a despised, loyal yet betrayed shepherd. Not simply betrayed by Judas, but by every one of his hand-picked disciples.
Isaiah 53 reminds me that all of us despised him, turned on him, esteemed him not. Especially when the going got rough. And he opened not his mouth. What a coward, some would say.
Psalm 1 reminds me that I’m not necessarily one of the trees planted by rivers of water. I’m also tempted to join up with the wicked. This isn’t a sad psalm. It’s cautionary. It lets me know my path isn’t automatically the path of the righteous. Especially if I call myself a follower of Jesus. It challenges me to stay rooted near a living stream of water. Especially but not only in times of drought.
We’re in a drought. The USA as I experience it is a strange land becoming stranger by the minute. Not because of immigrants or white supremacists, but because of deeply rooted polarization that tears people, families and communities apart.
So here’s where that leaves me, with some degree of certainty.
- Following Trump, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Independents, the Green Party, the flag, the Constitution or any other national symbol or institution will not save us in the end. Nor will it move us forward.
- Moving forward begins in our hearts. We need each other, battered and broken. Maybe all that means at first is learning to resolve problems in our increasingly isolated communities, families, and houses of worship.
- And what are the problems? For me they have nothing to do with national or international politics, and everything to do with learning the hard way (by making mistakes and starting over) what it means to honor other human beings within our current circles of friends, strangers and acquaintances. Loving our neighbors doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s time for humility, not glory. Especially if we’re afraid for our reputations or even our lives. Like it or not, we’re already at risk of worse than social disapproval or being voted out of our favorite clubs.
©Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 August 2018