A new reality

What does it mean to be a Christian in North America?  If I listen to my Republican brothers and sisters it has something to do with electing a President who can fight for “our” values.  When I visit with the more progressive, socially active believers it quite often involves protesting or advocating for something. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus thinks about all of this.  If Jesus and the disciples were walking the earth today, who would they vote for?  Would they defend the right of the unborn and choose the most conservative candidate or would they side with the poor and go with our current president?  Or, more interestingly, would they even be paying attention to the election?

Jesus’ earthly ministry took place during the Roman occupation.  The Israelites were a conquered people living under the rule of political leaders who thought of themselves as gods.  Why didn’t Jesus have more to say about the Romans and their anti-god rule?  When the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus in a political debate, he blows them off by telling them if the government wants it, they can have it.

In his latest book, Insurrection, Peter Rollins makes the following observation: “There is a different way: the way of Resurrection life.  This is a way of living that is able to short-circuit the present social, spiritual or political order, something that we witness at a political level in the life of Mother Teresa, who no more protested against the caste system than she affirmed it.   She simply lived in a different reality.  She lived as though it did not exist…”

Is this how Jesus lived?  Is this what the gospel call is all about?  Living into a new reality?  A reality where differences no longer divide?  Is this what Paul was talking about in Galatians 3:28?  Can you imagine a world where your gender no longer disqualifies you or forces you to do the same work for less pay?

If Paul were writing to us today I imagine he might say, “In Christ we are no longer American or Iranian, Republican or Democrat, for we are all one.”  Living into this kind of actuality just might mean choosing to live as if the reign of God is a present reality; right here, right now.

Politics

2012 is going to be, if nothing else, an interesting year to follow politics.  There are lots of burning questions, will Obama get reelected or will the Republicans figure out how to win?  Who will emerge as the Republican nominee to challenge Obama?  If it isn’t Ron Paul, will he decide run as an independent? Then there are all the political commentators and pundits.  I am not sure what exactly makes them experts in the first place, but they are kind of fun to watch.  I especially like the experts who talk first and think second.   Jon Stewart will keep most of the under 35 crowd laughing and cynical through this entire election cycle.

It is easy to become apathetic towards the democratic process and wish for something different or someone different to lead us.  Sir Winston Churchill famously said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Looking to scripture for a preferred system of politics is not terribly helpful.   At best scripture warns against trusting the powers of this world, which would include democratically elected leaders.  That said, democracy, in its purest form, grounds itself in equality, preserving the rights of even the weakest members of society and the seeking the welfare of all.  These ideas seem Christian.

In addition democracies, at a philosophical level, are committed to non-violence.  Change occurs through voting, not military coups.  Influence finds its expression in the legislative debate process not in street brawls.  Differences can be openly expressed in the media, public debates and non-violent protest rather than through warfare.

Is our system perfect?  Is it God ordained?  The answer to both of these questions is a resounding no.  Our system is the best option in an imperfect world.

Don’t forget to vote and don’t forget to enjoy the process!