I am so weary of all the slander, name calling, lying, and the literal and verbal rock-throwing back and forth in what has become a shameful, self-perpetuating “their side versus my side” news media frenzy. These days, because both rational and emotionally driven sentiments are so sharply at odds, one cannot in good conscience sit on any kind of a fence. You have to take a stand. Actually, that’s pretty much the way the Kingdom of God works. Jesus said you are either for me or against me. You cannot serve two masters. Choose between the broad road to destruction, or the narrow path to eternal life. It’s all very black and white, with no shades of gray to hide in. Pick a side then.
A couple days ago I read a guest post on a politically oriented website I occasionally take a look at. It was an article about the ugly, hateful divisiveness expressed during the long months of campaigning rivalry and especially after the shocking results of the election became known. It was written by Riaz Patel, who characterizes himself as a gay, Muslim, Pakistani-American immigrant TV producer.
“The worst outcome of the election” he said, “is that we have each been reduced to a series of broad labels that no longer reflect who we are. Mexican. White. Republican. Immigrant. Muslim. We may try to look at people as labels but we’ll never truly see them because THEY do not look at their own lives and families as labels.”
I think Patel is right about the accelerated tendency for prejudicial bias, for pinning labels on the fine citizens of these United States, regardless of whether the appraisals are accurate or assumed. On one side of the political battle fighting to the death you will find liberal elitists — sophisticated intellectuals, yoga practitioners, art lovers, wine tasters, rainbow flag waiving ultra-tolerant, all-inclusive I’m okay/you’re okay Unitarians. Who’s on the other side? Hillary said that Trump supporters were all ”deplorables,” relegated onto a curbside trash heap along with the great unwashed of society — the twelve-pack guzzling, vulgar, trailer park Neanderthal bigots who pick their noses in the check-out lines at Walmart and have to sign their names with a big “X.” Sounds like we now apparently have fabricated our own brand of caste system, like India?
Garrison Keillor of public radio’s Prairie Home Companion fame commented in the Washington Post the fateful morning after the votes were tallied: “Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. [We] Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids.” Wow. Maybe he and those loathing the newly defined four-year future of America should all just retire to Keillor’s fictional retreat at Lake Wobegon for imaginary group massage therapy and lament together over cocktails the demise of an egocentric progressive era the Clintons failed to force on the rest of us. What they believe is mostly make-believe anyway.
So how is it that we are to I.D. ourselves? About those labels . . . it’s difficult to not find yourself in one category or another — Single or married. Male or female. Employed or not — although a small segment of our current culture in decline is making a strong effort to blur those traditional distinctions. I find it interesting that Paul in his letter to the Galatian church writes “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So does this mean that in a mystically spiritual sense Christian believers are transformed into some kind of science fiction automatons, marching through life on command like mass produced troopers in Revenge of the Clones, except without the weapons?
I’m sure there are many discourses on the theological interpretation of Paul’s simple statement. In my opinion, I think it points to the contrast between enmity with and separation from God as a consequence of Adam’s disobedience, and our reconciliation with and acceptance by God as a result of redemption through the saving work of Christ. As a part of Adam’s natural lineage, without Christ I was defined as a fill-in-the-blank sinner, with a broken mindset, doomed to a propensity for falling short of God’s standards and marked by every sort of human fault. But now by faith in Christ, I am found in Christ, in whom there is no division. The fracture is healed. I’m not defined and separated by my gender, my job, my social status, my family heritage, and not even by my pre-salvation past. Rather I am who God says I am: a warrior, an over comer, forgiven, a new creation, holy, victorious, a beloved child of the King. In Him all believers are united, as one, without human distinctions, but also without surrendering the personal uniqueness that makes each of us, well – unique. There’s only one me.
I will, of course, continue to mark the appropriate boxes on surveys and applications, identifying myself for a pertinent piece of the big demographic pie. And I will always without hesitation acknowledge my particular station in life as a husband, father, grandfather, retired senior citizen, Caucasian male and a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. So are those labels, or actually just part of my exclusive name tag? Let me introduce myself.
HELLO, I’m . . . so much more than just words.