Confession 394: Playing the Long Game

 

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Disheartened.

That’s the word I went to bed with last night and awoke with this morning.

At the end of an unprecedented in my lifetime hate-filled, vicious and embarrassing political season, I am disheartened.

Now, before my Republican friends check out, let me be clear.  I’m not condemning Republicans.  I’m not condoning Democrats.  Although I didn’t see the election of Donald Trump as President coming, I get where it came from.

People are fed up with the American government.  More than that, they’re angry–and justifiably so.  Corporate democracy has polluted the democratic process and left many Americans in distress both financially and socially.

As a barely middle-class American, I don’t particularly feel like the government works on my behalf, and I know it doesn’t work on behalf of the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed.

However, I’m not sure that it should.  I think there’s a great danger in looking to the government for salvation. Governments are created to bring forth the kingdoms of men.  As Jesus followers, it is our responsibility to bring about the kingdom of God.

That’s not an attempt to diminish the significant role our government plays in promoting peace, justice and freedom.  The government has a responsibility to work on behalf of all its people.  Right now, it’s failing fairly spectacularly.  But, neither presidential candidate was going to fix that.

 

And while it disheartens me that so many people thought Donald Trump was the answer, God reminded me that there is a much wider lens from which to view this current election cycle.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth.  You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near.  Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!  James 5:7-9 (CEB)

Be patient

Wait for the Lord

Strengthen your resolve

Don’t complain about others

James gets the long game.  He understands that in a world fraught with upheaval, uncertainty and fear it’s easy to lose sight of what God is doing.  James calls on the people of God, who had absolutely no voice in the Roman government, to stand strong in their hope–to expect to see the coming of the Lord.

I think–almost 2,000 years later–there’s a message here for us.  God knows what is going on in his world.  God sees the injustice, the oppression, the poverty, the persecution, the greed, the violence and the iniquity.  And he’s going to do something about it.  In fact, he already is.

The truth of the matter is that we, as Jesus followers, have dropped the ball.  We’ve relinquished our call to do works of justice, mercy, love and peace and instead have called on the government to do those things for us.  But, that’s not the way God works.

Jesus gives  his disciples the following command as he sends them out to do the work of God.

As you go, make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons.” Matthew 10:7-8 (CEB)

Jesus doesn’t say: petition the government for better healthcare, demand an audience with the governor or campaign on behalf of Caesar.

No, Jesus tells his disciples, you heal the sick.  You feed the hungry.  You love your enemies.  You visit those imprisoned.  You work to bring about my kingdom.

My friends, it is time we put our hope back at the feet of the one who sits on the throne of creation.  It is time we stop blaming the government for all of our failures as human beings and take up the mantle of discipleship Jesus has placed before us.

Over the coming weeks and months, I challenge you to engage in some dialogue with God about how you can work within your homes, churches, workplaces and communities to bring about justice, peace, unity, mercy and love.  Regardless of who sits in Congress or the Oval Office, what can you do to help build God’s kingdom here on earth?

Blessings and Peace,

Sara

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