jesus for mayor

Jesus would've been a lousy politician. First off, he said what he thought. He also had a perspective that no one else had or could ever get. He saw humanity's needs within the context of eternity and spiritual condition. He knew why people did what they did, and he was surely convinced that laws and lines couldn't fix the ultimate problem. That's why he came. It would take more than words and penalties. It would take sacrifice - a self sacrifice. And what politician is willing to do that?

I had a couple of really interesting conversations this week. I guess you can call a rapid exchange of emails a conversation these days. Between my work with the Governor and my ministry, I probably receive and reply to at least a hundred or so emails a day. I know I spend an awful lot of time typing. But a couple of email conversations I had this week were a bit more thought provoking than the rest - if only because they were basically identical, only in reverse.

A lot of people figure since I work in a very political environment that I am always interested in talking politics. They also assume that I have very firm political leanings or a particular political party that I'm anxious to defend or promote. And honestly, they're right - partly.

Interestingly enough, early this week, on the same day, I received two emails - one from a very staunch Republican and another from a true yellow-dog Democrat. Both were cordial and friendly. The pachyderm was singing the praises of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and current President Bush. The donkey was worshipping Franklin D. Roosevelt, JFK and Bill Clinton. Many politicians and governmental leaders are convinced they are a savior of sorts in many ways. This is why.

There are a multitude of political parties and organizations out there. Obviously, in our country the Ds and the Rs are the biggest and most influential. And I am convinced they are also one of our country's biggest stepping stones/stumbling blocks. Both of the guys I "chatted" with this week were completely sold on their respective political parties. It's good to have a rallying point, so I have no issues there. But neither would even admit that anyone associated with the opposing party was much more than human. The words and names they used were ugly, mean and unnecessary. It was disappointing to read, and dangerously narrow.

Both fellas took their jabs directly from their party's talking points. It was an echo of the same things you hear on the talking head TV shows. Both had more to say about the other party's infidelities and weaknesses and corruption than they did their own party's philosophy and platform. Both were reluctant to even acknowledge their own camp's problems and indiscretions. And when they did, it was totally excusable and no one else's business - unless someone from the other side did it. They each took great pleasure in beating up the other's humans. Neither was willing to even consider there could be good people and productive policy somewhere on the other side. They'd drawn their lines and it was on something as flimsy as a political label and nothing more.

I'm around politics everyday. I work in the middle of it. I've studied it, eyed it, promoted it and regretted it. I've watched good and helpful legislation get buried, ignored or defeated because someone from the "wrong" political party drafted it. I've seen otherwise cordial and respectable men and women who started out ready to serve the people who elected them get backed into corners, threatened into deals, and rendered ineffective because they didn't play with the right team. The object of the game has become, "beat the other guy only because he's not one of us," instead of, "work together and serve the people who sent us here." And some of the ways this is done is ugly and most hypocritical. We have some pretty unrighteous people throwing some awfully big stones.

Thanks to big media, those of us who vote now are not only segregated by a letter, an animal and a philosophy, but now we're assigned a color. You now live in either a red state or a blue state. And thanks to technology, your county, your city and your voting precinct is colored in as well. Just one more thing to mark us and separate us.

We have enough reasons to divide ourselves. Atheist versus believer. Christian versus Muslim versus Jew versus Hindu and all the rest. Protestant versus Catholic versus those folks who claim they're Christian but probably neither. Then there are enough split-off churches to confuse Confucius. We all need a place to go, a place to belong. But belonging to one place does not mean discounting everyone who belongs somewhere else.

I enjoyed the exchange I had with my political friends. Ultimately, I agreed with neither of them on everything, but both of them on some things. I wonder how Jesus would register if he voted in America today.

"It's amazing how much a man can accomplish when he's not concerned with who gets the credit."

"If two people always agree on everything, one of them is not necessary."

-Authors will not be identified so everyone can agree these are pretty good statements.


dreaming of getting along

It is said that most Hatfields had no idea why they hated the McCoys. It was just expected, because Hatfields hate McCoys and vice-versa. Neither chose to be born to one family or the other, but once you were delivered into the clan, you were marked for hate and expected to return the affection. It's so hard for me to imagine that any person could hate another, especially for things that cannot be chosen or controlled.

Hate is never good and is certainly not the mark of anyone who wants to call themselves a follower of Christ. It may show itself in a variety of ways, but prejudice, however it is expressed, is still a form of hatred.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

Who wouldn't want that? Who wouldn't want to acknowledge and act out the creed that places every person on an equal plane - a place where every human being is afforded their own right to live, thrive and love? I recently read the entire text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream" speech. He delivered it on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC in August of 1963. I wasn't even born, and I was only two years old when he was buried. But I have great admiration for this risk taking giant.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." He went on to say, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character... little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with the little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.”

I know several folks who've been taught to look down on others who are not like them or don't measure up to a certain standard. I have Protestant friends who won't even consider Catholics to be their brothers. There are still congregations who are being led by prejudicial pastors to believe that they are God's only chosen and everyone else is the enemy. I have a couple of friends who express their prejudice through sad ethnic jokes that belittle anyone who is not white, Baptist, at least middle-class, and a proud tax paying American from the south. I wonder where their thinking was first molded. I'd like to know who planted the seeds of self-superiority in their minds. That kind of thinking certainly isn't found in the teachings of Christ.

Dr. King had some tremendous examples in his own life. His mother was known as a Godly woman who served her community and her church with a generous heart. Only six years after her famous son's death, she too was gunned down while she played the organ during a Sunday morning church service in Atlanta. After losing a son and his wife to hate and prejudice, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. said at his wife's funeral on July 3rd 1974, "I cannot hate any man."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be a controversial figure. He didn't consider himself a saint, and he knew his human nature would always be his biggest weakness. But he was a risk taker. Some will always like him and give creed to his words only because he was a black man. Some will always hate him and completely disregard anything he had to say only because he was a black man. He wasn't asked if he wanted to be born in the south, black, a male, or with the name King. So beyond the man, his color, his heritage, and his geography, was the principle he promoted and died believing in. It was the same one that was espoused and documented by the worthy white men who framed the foundation of our country.

"...let freedom ring. And when we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.”