We have arrived at the place in our country’s history where we have become so divided we can no longer hear each other. This is more than frightening. Blind allegiance to a cult personality has brought us to the edge of civil society.
There are now posts on Facebook suggesting civil war if the President is impeached. I have seen Tweets suggesting that government officials defending the Constitution and fulfilling their oaths of office been treated as traitors.
Where does this all end? We need to understand that wrong is wrong. If the President of the United States has done even half of what appears to be true, he does not deserve to be the leader of this country.
We are at the place where patriotism truly means placing the safety and the future of our nation over any one person or political party.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
The Gospel Reading for this coming Sunday is the ninth chapter of John. It tells the story of religious leaders who refused to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus even after it was proven that Jesus had healed a man born blind. One reason the religious leaders refused to believe was that the man was healed on the Sabbath, which broke the Jewish law. But in the end, they just refused to believe what they could see with their own eyes.
Far to many of us are fooling ourselves. We can see the truth of this administration, yet we choose not to believe what we know is true. Shame on us. Our disbelief does not change the facts. It does, however, keep us from enacting the change that needs to happen.
This morning’s gospel reading is from the 11th chapter of Matthew. John the Baptist is in Herod’s dungeon. When he hears of what Jesus was doing, he sends his followers to ask him if he (Jesus), is the Messiah.
The answer Jesus gives to John’s followers is both simple and direct. There’s no mistaking the actions, or the values, of Jesus.
“Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Look around you. The ones you see doing the works, and living the values of Jesus, are those who demonstrate an authentic Christian spirituality. You can see “Christian values.” They are centered on helping those most in need.
Jim Wallis has been a leader in the fight for social justice for over 40 years. He is also a leading voice in the search for an authentic evangelical theology in a world of hunger and poverty. His radical call for a new understanding of conversion comes from a solid foundation that is deeply rooted in both the Old and New Testament teachings on justice. In one of his earliest books, The Call to Conversion, Wallis writes:
Conversion means to relinquish wealth, for the sake of our relationship with God and for the sake of our relationship with the poor. Justice requires an end to our accumulation. A new commitment to economic sharing and simplicity will break our bondage to affluence and bring a vitality and integrity that most of our congregations have never experienced.
If Christians really want to stop the massive hemorhaging of church attendance they should take note. The church’s membership loss is not going to be staunched with Neosporin and band aids.
It’s time for a reality check. Our churches must be intimately connected and directly engaged with the poor. And that implies and demands a commitment to economic sharing. In the words of Wallis, we need true conversion.
Conversion in our time is to liberate the poor and to make the blind see. The poor need justice, and the rich need restored sight.