Among my Christian friends I find three responses to the mess that is our current political scene in these United States. Some are fiery partisans (Left and Right) mixing up a toxic brew of rhetoric that paints the ‘other’ as evil and ungodly. Some are attempting to see past the constant barrage of propaganda- trying to speak truthfully and with discernment. Many have stopped caring, tired of the fighting, disgusted by the low discourse, disengaged from the process entirely.
Timothy Dalrymple, writing recently in Christianity Today, recently pointed out the prophetic nature of Christians in this world. What does that mean? We are to be people who speak on God’s behalf. Oh, how frightening that phrase is to me. Yes, I understand what he intends, but when a person claims divine authority in any situation, it complicates the discussion. How can we disagree when someone says, “God told me!”? That is the ultimate ‘drop the mic’ moment, isn’t it? And yet, we are called to bear witness to Christ in our world. That author referred to prophets in two roles – in the king’s court and in the wilderness.
Nathan came before King David and spoke directly to him. That prophet had ‘connections’ or he could not have gained access. But, he did not treasure his insider status to such an extent that it silenced his voice. He was willing to risk his very life to tell David that God knew of his sin! John, the Baptist, lived on the fringes of society, calling people to justice and fidelity to the Living God, speaking the sins of Herod from the banks of the Jordan River. He was vilified, ignored, and eventually killed.
We must always remember that our credibility as prophets to this nation comes from integrity, humility, and intimacy with the Spirit of God. If we are too closely identified with political parties, we will be unable to speak honestly to the powerful. If we are living unexamined lives, our hypocrisy will eclipse our message. If we are not living close to God, filled with love, our words will be in the memorable words of St. Paul nothing more than noise resembling “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
I freely acknowledge that I am largely a conservative, both in my Christian convictions and my political views. Does that mean I only advocate for pro-life issues and refuse to endorse same-sex marriage as if those were the only two things that matter? Not if I am responsive to the Spirit. I must also speak honestly to a twisted nationalism that replaces love for God with love of ‘my people.’ I am ever so grateful for this great nation, but I know that God is not an American and Jesus is the Savior of the world. Then, too, I cannot let it slide when someone suggests that a person of another religion or race is a ‘non-person’ or that they should be ‘sent back’ to where they came from. As God’s prophet I say without apology that God wants us to struggle to include ALL in our care, to keep on talking, even when it is hard to do so. In the interest of transparency, I admit that it is very difficult not to want that person who disagrees with us and appears to want to destroy our way to life to go away, to be silenced! So, I pray, “Change my heart, Oh God!”
True Christians will find that path that always loves the person even when they cannot agree with their behaviors. We somehow have confused affirming everything a person does with accepting who that person is. They are not the same. If we think they are, we lose our prophetic role. Prophets, even though humble, often make people really angry!
From that same article there were these words that I take in closing – “So let us not be silent. We are not captive to political party. We are accountable to a higher authority. We expect better of our leaders, and we stand in the foxholes with our brothers and sisters when they are taking fire. We hope court prophets and wilderness prophets alike, and Christians of all political persuasions, will speak the truth and stand with those who suffer unjustly.” (Timothy Dalrymple, On Court and Wilderness Prophets)
Here is a word from the Word. “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” the high priest demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Jesus, and you intend to blame us for his death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to God so their sins would be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:28-32, NLT)
May the Lord bless you today.
My prayer is that HE will speak to us, and then,
through us to the world. Amen.