First….before we get any further let me explain a couple things:
1) I am NOT making some prophetic statement
2) I am NOT claiming that America is God’s chosen like ancient Israel
3) I am NOT politicizing or spiritualizing America
4) I AM simply making an observation
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into something here.
Unless you live under a rock, you are aware that we have recently just concluded an election cycle (technically not until Inauguration Day, but you understand) that may have been the most divisive and ugly in American history. One can argue that there have been other “nasty” elections but with the 24 hour news cycle and social media, nothing goes unnoticed now and therefore this has been the most openly and divisive election we have seen.
I am not here to talk about political affiliation or who you voted for and why. I am also not here to discuss the pros, cons, concerns or hopes that many feel right now. Some are incredibly excited we can head in a different direction than we have the last 8 years while others are gripped with fear about what the President-elect may or may not inact through public policy. For both groups, we need honest and respectful discussion so that we can continue to be “one nation”. Unity is hard when we have different opinions, but it is precisely in those moments that we need it all the more. And it takes real Love and maturity to get to that point, something we do not currently have.
What I do want to talk about is something that we all share – even though we may disagree on the way forward or if any change is necessary. When I look at the state of America right now I see a common thread among all of us, regardless of whether we identify as Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent; or as conservative, progressive or moderate; whether we are black, white, Hispanic or any other “color” or nationality.
What is our common thread?
First, let’s take a look an ancient Israel.
The Biblical nation of Israel technically began when Jacob wrestled with God and had his name changed to Israel (Gen 32). This is the same Jacob of the fathers of Judaism and much of modern Christianity, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob (Israel) has several children, one of whom is Joseph, who we know as the one with the many colored coat. As the story goes, Joseph’s brothers were not thrilled with him and his dreams and sold him into slavery to some Ishmaelites passing by who then took him to Egypt and sold him there (Gen 37). Joseph’s journey is wild from rising to heights in Pharaoh’s kingdom only to be sold out and falsely imprisoned, too interpreting Pharoah’s dream and once again rising to prominence in the kingdom, second to only Pharaoh himself. As Joseph continues on and his seed multiplies, Pharoah and his advisors, driven by fear, decide that Joseph’s offspring (Israel) are too numerous and they are put into slavery.
Years later we have the story of Moses who once was prominent in Pharaoh’s house and then defected into the wilderness where he encounters Yahweh through a burning bush. After a series of events and a few plagues, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. During Israel’s early history on its own, God provided leadership through Moses, Aaron, judges and prophets, all with God being their leader and source. They were a Theocracy – government by God.
But the natives were restless – always. When Moses wanted to take them to meet with God personally, they said “no”, you go for us and just report back. They relied on the judges and prophets for years to be their intermediate to God so they didn’t have to have actual contact with Him. Finally, Israel does the unthinkable – they ask for a King. We see this recorded in 1 Samuel 8. From this point on, Israel is no longer a Theocracy but a kingdom and government like all the others, looking to a man or group of men to take care of them.
Did you catch it?
The people wanted their “government” to take care of them, to decide for them, to eliminate any responsibility of their own to live free lives.
Now, I am not talking here about welfare or health insurance or actual programs. What I am referring to is the idea that people have historically gravitated toward a form of leadership that tells them what to do and when to do it and removes any responsibility from themselves.
Now, no one would admit to wanting a structure that tells them what to do and when to do it, that sounds silly and completely opposite of our nature. And while there is truth in that, look at the facts. Look at history. Look at Israel. Look at America right now.
We have all been guilty of putting our trust in our government to take care of us – and that includes managing our behaviors and responsibilities.
Israel of old didn’t want to live “under God” while managing themselves, they wanted the “easy” way, the way everyone else (populist) was doing it: The way that took managing themselves out of the equation and left them blindly following and doing what they were told was “right”.
Today in America we are doing the same thing. Both “sides” do it. The left wants pure democracy which is nothing more than mob rule. If the majority say it’s so, then it’s so. Independent thought is a “crime” because it doesn’t match up to the popular notion or the loudest voice. The right does it also, just from a different angle. They think that by getting the “right” person to rule us then they will dictate all the right things for everyone to do. Both are guilty of the same thing: relying on the government – leadership – to direct their lives.
In a microcosm other organizations do it as well. Churches operate this way all the time. There is the “clergy” (leadership, government) and the congregation. The congregation comes every week to be told what to believe and how to behave by those in charge, instead of living free lives under the influence of Christ in their life.
You see, this is humanity’s problem: Were apathetic! Not pathetic (mostly) but apathetic – not caring or interested. Caring or interested in what exactly? Our own freedom. We find it easier to let someone else manage us than the work it takes to manage ourselves. It is easier to “go with the flow” and not cause any waves than it is to live truly free and independent. It’s easier to be told what to do, think, believe than it is to risk the disdain of living free outside the constraints of populist thought.
Freedom is what we were created for. It is for freedom that Christ reconciled us back to the Father. In fact, it is true freedom that Jesus exhibited while he was on the earth in human form. He lived completely from the relationship with His Abba – His Father. The only control that Jesus exhibited was self-control, which is the essence of true freedom. It is managing ourselves. Managing ourselves from the inside and our relationship with the Trinitarian Godhead, rather than following popular thought and trending topics.
Israel and America suffer (suffered) from the same thing: Depending on the government (leadership) to take care of them and fix everything and do everything for them.
The answer begins in actually caring. We were not made to be dependent on the government, but rather created to co-create and co-rule with the Godhead and manage our own freedom.
Of course I am not talking about anarchy or a lack of law and order or even a lack of governmental entities per se. What I am suggesting is that we were created for something greater. And that is true freedom with love as our compass. And not this so called love that people through around in our charged political environment. I am talking about being consumed and ruled by real love – Love Himself. A love that is not offended nor self-centered. A love that looks past differences and doesn’t feel the need to be known as “right”. A love that prefers others and respects their freedom and their expression of that freedom.
This is what freedom looks like – managing ourselves while being led by Love.
This is what we were created for, not the blind following of the masses and putting our hope in earthly governments.
Let’s be free!!
Free to be…free to love…free to embrace…free to disagree…free to live as we were created.