Friday, October 14, 2016
Let's Live Beyond Politics
What do you let shine?
Often, I let my fear shine. Or my jealousy, or my cynicism. But God wants His followers to let His holy light shine in us, and radiate from us.
What shines from Donald Trump? It's stuff that makes evangelicals like me dismayed by his candidacy. Even more than Hillary Clinton, Trump lives his sins through his temperament, in full view of anybody and everybody. Trump's particular temperament is well-documented as a pattern of unBiblical behavior from which he's made no concerted demonstration of repentance. Indeed, he delights in it and considers it part of his identity.
Yes, we all sin, but most of us don't delight in it. Hillary has made many crude comments both publicly and privately, but at least she tries to backtrack and apologize. And up until Trump hit the magic metric and became a Republican nominee, most Christ-followers didn't find any urgency in defending his temperament.
So what's different now, but politics? Yet doesn't God wants us to live beyond politics?
Most of us closet our sins. We hide them from others, we're embarrassed by them, or we're afraid of the repercussions if other people knew what we secretly think, or those after whom we privately lust.
Trump, meanwhile, doesn't really care. He says what he thinks and pursues whatever he lusts after. And a lot of folks find that refreshing, as if public decorum and deportment have suddenly become old-fashioned. At least when politics is concerned.
And yes, frankly, considering how deceitful many politicians are, an open-mouthed, cavalierly vulgar candidate like Trump can seem like a breath of fresh air. He says what the "common man" is thinking, no matter how politically incorrect it is. But just because something may be politically correct, should we automatically scorn it? Sometimes, political correctness is genuine, deserved propriety and respect in disguise.
Sometimes, loving our neighbor as ourselves means loving others - despite their warts - as much as we love ourselves with all our warts. Sometimes, acting properly means forcing ourselves to act in ways, and say things, that minimize the fury in our heart so we don't needlessly offend others, or come across as uncaring. Sometimes, it's not that we create a public facade of the Fruit of the Spirit that is lacking in our soul, as much as it is keeping quiet and being still until we've allowed the Holy Spirit to grow His Fruit within us.
And I say that not as somebody who has mastered it, but is simply trying to practice it, however imperfectly.
For Christ-followers, this is part of our "sanctification", which is a process that culminates when we die. Since it is a process, there are progress markers along the way for us to acknowledge and recognize, both in ourselves and others. We need to have a repentant nature, and a willingness to concede our own errors. We need to be striving not for personal success, but for God's glory, even at our own personal expense. We need to appreciate the Biblical reality that if we say we belong to God, we actually do belong to God - and that means being willing to let Him control our lives, even if that control runs contrary to the template of our culture.
It's not easy, or popular, or fun. It may not make us wealthy, or healthy. But it will help make us wise. Indeed, most of us can acquire intelligence simply by reading something, but wisdom is a process that cannot be acquired. It is built, cultivated, nurtured, and often painful. Pick any despot the world has ever known, and how many of them were wise? Most have been smart, and exceptionally cunning. But that's not wisdom.
On the one hand, perhaps it would be nice - or easy - to simply let our sins all hang out, so we can roll through life flippantly and casually, saying whatever we wanted to say, however we wanted to say it. Doing whatever we wanted to do, however we wanted to do it. But is that "authenticity"? Is that "being real"? Is that "refreshing"? Maybe to yourself, but is it to others? How much respect does it show others? How good of a testimony is it of God's holiness?
Actually, isn't such a lifestyle a distortion of Godly living? You see, it's not that God wants us to pridefully hide our sins, and bear the agony of deception. Instead, God wants us to flee from sin in the first place. He wants to free us from bondage to the attitudes and actions that cause us to feel like hiding them, and not being "authentic".
Displaying our sins isn't freedom if we're not trying to flee from them.
Indeed, our lack of comfort with our sins should be a good thing, right? It should indicate that the Holy Spirit is convicting us, and that's part of the Holy Spirit's job. But our goal shouldn't be to simply ignore the conviction, or only apologetic of our sinful behaviors. Our goal should be God's honor and glory through our mortification of our sinful dispositions.
Not that we're hiding our sins to make ourselves appear better than we really are. Instead, we control our display of personal sins in the process of confession, repentance, and regeneration towards the Christ-follower we should desire to be. Remember, God is the One Who looks at our heart. And in the meantime, as others look at us outwardly, they should recognize us as a person after God's own heart.
Perhaps if we stopped concentrating on our horizontal perspective between presidential candidates, and began to give greater attention to our lateral perspective between ourselves and God, the choices we have before us could become clearer, and far less acrimonious. Yet of all the arenas in our lives, politics has become a main stage for relativism and accommodation, even for Christ-followers.
We let government become more powerful than God. Ironic, huh; since many Christ-followers claim to be politically conservative, and believers in limited government?
So why don't we let loose of politics, and live beyond it?