I lunched this week with a person deeply concerned about the political and social climate that has grown in America. "I'm frightened," she said.
I made the point that each time God sent angels in the New Testament, the first message was, "Don't be afraid." When Jesus came through the locked door to see His friends after His resurrection, His first word to them was, "Don't be afraid."
I believe that's His first word to us, too. "Don't be afraid." This is God's country which He loves. We are His people whom He loves. We do not need to be afraid of anything. Not of political candidates, and not of the voting public. Whatever else is true, we are in God's hands. He is in charge. We will be all right.
God had plans for America when the Puritan leader John Winthrop, prophesied: "We are as a city set upon a hill, with the eyes of the world upon us." The Puritan-Pilgrim sense of their "errand into the wilderness" was that they would create communities that cared for each other, for the single, the lonely, whom they would enable to be families of compassion together, and that America itself would be a servant nation in the world.
The dream is still there, for something new, for something "great" to grow from the faith roots of our nation. Dr. Ben Carson, brain surgeon, understands and articulates this heritage of America. But, he was too gentle, too clear in his faith and his spirit to succeed in the Primary season.
Someone else did, instead. Someone bluff, outspoken, unpredictable, uncontrolled, who said what he wanted to say, because he paid his own way. He confronted the political correctness growing out of our Enlightenment enchantment with ourselves, our need for no-one, nothing but ourselves.
It is a philosophy of man that has been eating away at our faith foundation, glorifying the growing secularity of our self-centered way, that has turned our openness to faith--to all traditions of faith--into an increasing intolerance of any faith, of any moral code, any gift of God given as light to His people, in favor of man's self-reliant dependence on himself, alone.
Our airways are saturated with voices of sophistication, of "smart people," who are going to comment on the passing scene, and tell us what to think. Till their public judgment on those different from them, is ready--in all their self-righteousness--to obstruct and dismantle the political system that has served us for over 200 years. Because that system has produced someone for leadership who is not their kind. Who doesn't look like, or talk like them.
In desperation now, they call for the most agregious offender to stay down, to walk out, to shut up. To stop offending them.
Yet crudities of all kinds surround us. Moral offenses that demand killing of unborn children to be the law of the land.
Much that troubles our sensibilities has turned us away from both major candidates for the office of President. We say we don't trust them. We say many things, but particularly that we are better than they. They offend our sense of righteousness. More and more, we expose our own sense of self-righteousness.
In my old age, I find it is the heart of people that I trust. That I am ready to love and accept--though these same are not ready to go my way, fall in with my faith way, my ministry style and life.
But I am touched by their heart. It is easier to forgive. I am more ready to learn--even from them. And, I want to give people a chance.
In political life, a revolution is brewing. People want easy assumptions confronted. To fight back today against those who would make us correct according to their way--it may take leaders very unlike us to break through, to open up, to forge new paths in our time.
There is so much that the heart tells us of people. So much that is good, despite baggage that is offensive to us.
Let us be very careful how we judge those who have risen to places where we have not reached. Let us look to ourselves--and do the sorry-saying that we need to do. Let us dare to trust God to hold His country, America, in His own hands and to guard us and guide us--through the system we have--and give those a chance, to do their best for us all. Let us, dare to risk. To have faith as we go forward. And--of all things--NOT BE AFRAID.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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