Last week was a synchro-blogging event for a thing called Big Tent Christianity. The idea is for Christians to come together and accept each other in a sort of "big tent" way. I got a bit cynical on one of my attempts, and sarcastic on another. Then, I was just plain defensive, trying not to offend anyone by who I let in my big tent. Finally, I just got sad and discouraged.
And my thinking went beyond the church and its tent. I despair at the division in my country, in our churches, and in seemingly every venue of human endeavor. We are thwarted from progress or from maintaining the good by the dark powers of division.
A great deal of blame goes to the media when it comes to our national bifurcation. Tension sells. And there are plenty of millionaires on TV and radio and the internet who create tension 5 days a week. In doing so, they create for themselves a very fine living...thank you very much. (I said "living," not "life.")
Saddest of all, the church and the state are tag-teaming in ways that are unbecoming to both. In the name of God, God's children are learning to rage at God's children. Hot button topics are used by left and right to polarize people--who are typically good at loving--into separate camps. Armed camps. Armed with words and threats and visceral anger.
Big tent??? I fear church people aren't even capable of loving those in their own congregational tent. Why go for a big one, when the spirit of the age--which we so gladly embrace--is the spirit of divide and conquer? It is all too common for people to judge the spiritual lives of others based upon their political opinions.
Thanks to a gracious grant and a sabbatical, I will be out of our country during the fervent peek of the approaching election cycle. What bliss. I will be seeking to live under the reign of God. People have lived under this reign for millennia. But today, many are exiting its blessings, in favor of hatred and division in the name of--and while waving the flag of--a kingdom of this world.
I am grateful for my country. I complement those who become active in the political process, so long as they follow Christ's teaching. A few beatitudes come to mind. Blessed are the peace-makers, Blessed are the meek, and blessed are the pure in heart.
As much as I love my country, I must reserve the right to love each of its citizens--no mattter their politics or religion. I must insist on this love. And I love citizens of all other nations, no matter their political, religious or ethnic persuasion. I can't help it. Sit down and look in the eyes of another human being. Hold their children in your lap. Listen to a father's dreams, or witness the twinkle in a mother's eye. Share your stories with them, and you will love them...no matter the flag waving outside of their nation's capitol. You have to love them. It is what Jesus does.
I like big tents. There probably is one. I just despair of finding enough people willing to get along to populate it.
Check out Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 and choose a kingdom.