Pre-election thoughts

March 13, 2018

I apologize for the sarcasm about to come, but it is clearly intended to express my disgust at and loathing of our election processes. I also write this before the conclusion of our local “special election,” so as to not appear to express sour grapes.  I don’t know who will win and this has little to do with that anyway because ALL are culpable.  So with that in mind… here we go.

Did you know that all Democrats rejoice at the destruction of babies in the womb?  They can’t wait until thousands of living fetuses are ripped apart by abortion doctors.  How do I know that?  Because that’s what the Republican ads imply.  And of course I believe all of those things!  And did you know that all Republicans are eager to put assault weapons into the hands of irresponsible young people so they can murder their classmates in bigger numbers?  Yeah it’s true!  How do I know that?  Because the Democrats’ ads surely imply that.  And honestly they can’t put these things on T.V. if they weren’t true, can they?  Of course not!  And our outstanding politicians wouldn’t say them if they were false, would they?  Heaven forbid!  And to further verify these “facts” we have loads of really smart and discerning people placing even more “facts” on the internet.  Again, if it’s on the internet it must be true, right?  Every day I get loads of helpful and insightful posts from… um… really thoughtful people.  I’m sure they have studied and verified their information before sending it out for who knows how many people to see and embrace.  Yep!  I’m really thankful for all of the preparation that is put into this really helpful information.  And I am particularly proud of my Christian friends who eagerly and angrily sow the seeds of division and hatred.  Thanks, guys.  I’m glad someone other than me has that calling.

In this most recent election I got mail EVERY DAY from the two candidates or from some independent party supporting them.  Some days I got more than one mailing.  You know just in case I forgot what the mail said from the previous day.  And thankfully it all started 2-3 months before the actual election so that I had plenty of time to ponder.  And the phone calls…  I had no idea I was so popular!  Or maybe it’s Ellen?  Yesterday I had at least a dozen phone calls; again to remind me who to vote for in case I forgot about the 4 foot stack of useless mailings.  Ellen got texts too.  I didn’t get any texts!  I think I’m a little miffed; maybe even hurt.

Well enough of that. So, why do these elections filled with falsehoods (a nice way of saying “lies”) exist?  Why does every one of these political popularity contests have to spiral down into mudslinging?  And I get it; it may not be the candidates themselves who are pushing the negative agenda, but it is people who support them.  Well again, why does this happen? BECAUSE IT WORKS! We suck it up!  We hear the lies and we pass them along as “gospel” to help support our candidate.  Is it any wonder why the National Enquirer is so popular!?  Seriously, is it?  We love this stuff.  Falsehoods, lies, gossip!  It makes our day!  We love to see those on the top of the mountain get humbled.  I know you are saying, “Well, maybe others, but not me.”  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… whoa almost swallowed my tongue!

When and how are we going to demand higher standards from those who run for office so they can lead us? Yeah, I don’t know either.  But let me tell you what REALLY bothers me in all of this.  What are we teaching our children?  Well, essentially this:  If you want to get into a position of authority and power… lie and step all over people.  Am I being too critical?  Maybe.  But 3 months of this nonsense is enough.  I’ll be glad when 8:00 this evening rolls around and the polls close.  I am ashamed.  I am ashamed for those running for office.  I am ashamed for those who sling mud.  I am ashamed for those “really smart people” who put devisive posts on the internet.  I am ashamed of myself for whatever part I play in all of this.  I am ashamed for all of us.

But… it’s only our children so, keep doing what we have been doing. It can’t be that bad… can it?

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Good God

March 12, 2018

For many Christians we would claim that Salvation is dependent in some way on a vital, living relationship with Jesus Christ… Right? In other words, our hope of walking into the Pearly Gates after our last breath is primarily a matter of who we know versus what we know.  I didn’t say that ALL self-proclaimed believers hold to this theology, but I suspect most do.  And yet, when a loved one dies our theology goes the way of bell bottoms, leisure suits and tie died shirts, i.e., it disappears.

Many of us have been in situations where a loved one or friend dies and everyone, including ourselves are proclaiming that “they are in a better place.” Or “they have gone to be reunited with (fill in the blank)” or “they are fishing up in that great trout stream in the sky” or any number of other scenarios that describe a very positive outcome for the deceased.  And yet we know full well that they never, to our knowledge, professed to know Jesus outside of calling out His name when they were angry let alone living a life that might be in any way mistaken for a “Christ follower.”

Of course I know why we do these things. The alternative thoughts are just too dreadful to consider.  I fully understand that.  I have been in those situations myself.  I don’t write this to demoralize us or cause us to think about or feel unspeakable pain.  I write to challenge us in one area.  Whatever our theology is; whatever our thoughts of God might be; whatever we proclaim to the world that we believe.  We must hold to these things in the good times AND in the bad times.  We cannot change our beliefs to suit ourselves depending on whichever way the emotional winds might be blowing.

For example the phrase: “God is always Good.”  I actually believe that.  And I believe it all the time.  It just depends on what one means when that’s proclaimed.  If we mean that God is always good despite our circumstances, then why do we only proclaim this when “good things” happen to us?  Why do we not talk about the “goodness of God” when awful things happen?  I suspect for this reason.  When we talk about the “goodness of God” we are really talking about the “good” things that happen to us.  We are not talking about the essential attribute of “Goodness” that defines God.  The “Goodness of God” does not necessarily apply to or rescue from the circumstances of our lives all the time.  Remember, we live in the midst of Evil.

John 12:31

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

Ephesians 2:2

in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

We cannot live our lives thinking that things will be “good” for us all the time just because God is Good. As a matter of fact, even God brings about calamity in our lives on occasion and he also disciplines us.

Hebrews 12:My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

I hope you read that. Even a Good God brings about tragedy in our lives.  But in the midst of discipline, it’s hard to see the Goodness of God.  What child praises their parents for disciplining or grounding them?  None that I know of.  At least not until much later.

Do I claim to understand how all of this works? Not for a second.  I just know that sometimes the circumstances of our lives are good and sometimes they are encompassed by Evil.  But in the midst of that, God’s nature is always Good.

All of that to say: Be careful what you mean when you say “God is always Good.”  And be careful where you are and who you are with when you say “God is always Good.”  You may be with someone who has endured indescribable hardship and is not yet prepared to hear about a Good God.  If nothing else our proclamations of theology need to be timely, loving and sensitive.  And at the same time they need to be consistent.  What we believe in the “good” times needs to be upheld in the “bad” times lest our beliefs are… well… not beliefs at all.

Blessings.