I got a hit today, from an old friend – old as in older than I am, and also that I’ve counted him a friend for over 40 years. By ‘hit’ I mean that an e-mail ping came through that he had “posted an update.” You know those notifications.
For whatever it’s worth, I just don’t pay a lot of attention to my social media possibilities. I’m not convinced it’s all bad, but neither am I convinced it’s much good, either. Of all the things I struggle with, my attitude is my most challenging opponent.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a strong personality isn’t automatically a negative factor, but I do find I have to wrestle some negative thoughts to the ground on a rather consistent basis. Oh, the stuff that never goes on external speaker, that I’m so thankful only God Himself heard, as I scream in the caverns of my mind! … as I want to default to being thankful, deep in my soul.
My old friend was postulating another vein of the negative narrative around how the government is being so dishonest with us lowly citizens, and the list of what this ungodly government is being dishonest with us about seems to be endless, and I’m somehow a dupe for … what? Living in this country? I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know, and I’ll advance a bit on two fronts, so come with me on a little mind walk.
First of all, in full disclosure, let me be clear that I am a Christian, which is AKA a Jesus follower, which also means I use the Bible as my base exploration tool – yes, I know, there are differences of opinion on how that all works … humor me here.
My first front is that I, in no way, shape or manner, expect either my government, or the culture in which I live, to be “Godly” in some Biblical definition. What I read in the Book is that neither culture nor government have ever displayed some propensity to look to the Almighty for direction on what’s best for anyone – including ‘themselves’.
When the ‘king’ is righteous, he looks out for me, and when he’s not, he looks out for his own temporal benefit – which is pretty short-sighted! And when I’m righteous, I look out for my king, and for myself, and for you, and for God – which is eternal in scope.
And I only control whether or not I’ll look to my life-Book for direction to keep a reasonable grip on my attitude, which is a constant wrestling match, and I have a Teammate whom I can tag, and He steps in for me, and we win this round. You see, I don’t expect the cosmos around me to be Godly in nature, and I don’t waste my time fighting a losing battle. I’m intentional in being faithful to Jesus – which brings me to my second front.
This ‘Jesus’ character lived in one of the most reasonably prosperous and civilized cultures to date, and that Roman Empire was oppressive and uncivilized by today’s standards, and Jesus lived in one of the occupied and oppressed pieces of dirt the emperor laid claim to for himself and the state – a deep state, I might add, that had been going on for over 500 years by the time Jesus came along, and was destined to go on, in one form or another, for another 1,000 years – and that’s where our Christian faith was born.
And Jesus had things to say about the state – but the state of the state was a subject He left completely and entirely alone. This ‘Jesus’ character – that I count as my hero and mentor – flatly refused to get embroiled in the arguments of the day, and kept His nose pointed toward His own Kingdom value system and His personal mission.
People brought taxation questions to Him (Matthew 17 & 22) and His crazy position was to “render” – or, give it up; pay it – and this seems to be His position on both the local and national levels.
And they brought oppression and overreach and exploitation questions to Him, and He told them to walk with their oppressor, toting his luggage for him, not just for the legally demanded mile, but go two with him. (What!?) And He said, “Love your enemies.” (Say it’s not so!)
And some brought family disputes and religious, doctrinal discrepancies to Him, and He was ridiculously off-handed with them, as He seemed to defer to His higher calling.
Note: This is not an argument to excuse or justify or trivialize any form of abuse or overreach or exploitation! And this is not meant to give answer to all the sticky issues we face today! This is my personal faith confession, that since I claim to be ‘Christian’, then I’m gonna submit my value system to the life and teachings of the One by whom I name myself!
I like my friends, and I need them, and that includes my old Christian friends as well. And I find that some of my friends attempt to distract me from walking with Jesus. He called my name, and I stepped up, and I said, “Yes!”