As we try to make sense of our lives in the middle of this crisis, it is all complicated by the endless political posturing that goes on while people die, businesses close, and lives are being turned upside down. The responses to the virus are predictable, following the lines between Left and Right in the country; largely determined by whether you are among the ‘haves’ or the ‘have nots.’
Consumed by self-interest, we fight with each other when we could be using that energy to find solutions, to be creative about figuring out how to save lives and keep people from economic ruin. Instead, we let the opinion makers of both sides reinforce our positions, dig in, and call the people on the other side names. I will be transparent here and admit that I, too, find myself angered at one moment and deeply sad in another and when those emotions control me, I become part of the problem!
The problem of self-interest especially among those who are privileged with power, IS NOT a new thing.
Amos, a shepherd from Tekoa, a phrase that lets us know that he is a nobody from nowhere, was moved by the Spirit of God to go to the royal palace of Israel and speak the truth to power. As I read his words this morning, it seemed to me that they could have been written to 21st America! They reveal the heart of God to us.
“How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth! You trample the poor and steal what little they have through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, you will never live in the beautiful stone houses you are building. You will never drink wine from the lush vineyards you are planting. For I know the vast number of your sins and rebellions.
You oppress good people by taking bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. So those who are wise will keep quiet, for it is an evil time. Do what is good and run from evil—that you may live! Then the Lord God Almighty will truly be your helper, just as you have claimed he is. Hate evil and love what is good; remodel your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on his people who remain.” (Amos 5:10-15, NLT)
My response to those convicting words is one of humility.
I am praying that God will give me a heart that seeks justice, that treats others fairly.
I am praying for a voice that will not give in to the temptation to cheer for the party that promises to protect my self-interest, but to try to seek the best for us all.
I am praying for those who hold places of leadership to be granted wisdom and to become truly self-less public servants.
I am praying to be less cynical and to trust God to make a way when I cannot see a way.
Even as I write those words, I know that those aspirations will remain just ideals without a profound work of God’s Spirit in me. God reminded me, in my questions about all this, about the key to my identity. It isn’t in political persuasion nor is it in my job. He wrote these words on my heart.
I want to close my time with you with them. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3, NIV)
Will you desire that each thought of everyday be shaped by the truth that you are held as an eternal being, in Christ, near to God’s heart?
What power we gain to be agents of change in this sick, sinful, suffering world IF we know to Whom we belong and the security found in being ‘hidden with Christ in God.’
Once more, here is that passage from The Message, a contemporary paraphrase. Take this word from the Word with you today and be changed inside out. “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.” (Colossians 3:1-3, The Message)
All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain, I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this…
Now my heart’s desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and known as Yours;
To possess by faith what I could not earn,
All surpassing gift of righteousness…
Oh to know the pow’r of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You;
There is no greater thing!
You’re my all, You’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You, Lord, love You, Lord!
Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055