Posts Tagged ‘opponent

30
Sep
21

Whose Team Are You On?

Tom* really knew how to get my goat.

Even though – as his pastor – I did my level best to keep my political opinions and leanings tightly under cover, Tom thought he had me pretty well pegged. He would use every available opportunity to wave his political flag loudly and proudly.

The Thursday morning Men’s Bible Study was the venue where Tom really cut loose. He and I and 8-10 other guys gathered at 6:30 there in the public dining area of a nearby supermarket to eat, pray, study scripture, and yak.

But mostly to yak.

The yakking started the minute any of us arrived and kept going, non-stop, until the morning’s designated leader cleared his throat, tapped a spoon against a coffee cup, and reined us in. 

Tom’s greeting almost always consisted of some version of the question, “So did you hear what your boy said yesterday?” The phrase “your boy,” of course, was meant to refer to any political leader who stood on the opposite side of the debate from where Tom pitched his tent. 

I usually played my part and dutifully replied, “I don’t know… who are you referring to as ‘my boy,’ Tom?”

And so it began. The thing is, Tom was exactly right. He and I did stand on diametrically opposite sides of the political fence. And his zings and jabs almost always landed… though I tried my best not to let my exasperation show.

In most other settings, people like Tom and I would have sized each other up, written one another off, turned around, and gone back to hanging out with “our kind” of people… you know, people who voted the right way, thought the right thoughts, and listened to the right newscasts. 

Fortunately, Tom and I had another identity… an identity that drew us together. An identity that forged a bond strong enough to stand up to the fickle winds of the ever-changing political weather.

You see, Tom and I were also brothers in Christ. We each jealously claimed the identity conferred on us at our baptism… people created in God’s holy image, set aside, blessed, loved, and forgiven by the Creator of All That Is. 

We also knew that this deeper, DNA-level identity conveyed a deeper, much more important truth about each other than whether we were red-staters or blue-staters. We knew that this identity is the lifeboat that would carry us through even the most treacherous storms of life. 

It was the sacred link that allowed us to exchange a hearty man-hug and say, “Love you, man,” as we wrapped up and went our separate ways every Thursday.

Thinking back on those Thursday mornings years ago made me wonder… as I look out and watch people draw lines, throw rocks, hurl insults, and disparage ancestries… when will we wake up? When will we finally see one another as the brothers and sisters God created us to be? Why are we so intent on choosing sides, vying for supremacy, and being the one who comes out on top?

As Bob Dylan said, “Where have all the flowers gone… long time passing. Where have all the flowers gone… long time ago.”

Or as the Apostle Paul said, even more fittingly, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” (Romans 12:9-13, NRSV).

Abundant blessings;

* Not his real name

02
Nov
18

“Just Kidding!”

Political opponentsI had gone out to play with my friends after dad finished giving me my every-two-week haircut. His barber chair was right there in the living room of our home.

With five kids at home – four of which were boys – my folks were always looking for ways to cut costs. Home haircuts were a huge help to the budget.

Dad was efficient with his barbering, but not always deft. My homemade haircut looked… like a homemade haircut. And as I met my friends in the field that day, my best friend Robbie pointed at my hair, laughed, and said, “Hey, Rusty… nice haircut! Did your dad put a bowl on your head before he cut your hair?”

And then he laughed, playfully punched me in the arm and said, “Just kidding!”

Of course, he was. But the initial sting of the joke stayed with me… because I knew he was actually not kidding at all.

In less than a week the mid-term elections will be over. We will all finally know the results of these watershed votes. Half of the candidates will win and pump their fists victoriously. Half will lose and go home to lick their wounds and ponder their next moves.

But the REAL blessing of next Wednesday will be the blessed disappearance of all of the political TV ads.

Thank you, eight pound, 10-ounce baby Jesus!

After the election dust clears the men and women who have gone on the public airwaves for the last three months, hurling the most vicious, degrading, debased, and insulting remarks at one another will step back, grin sheepishly at each other, and say, “JUST KIDDING!”

They will each call for a time of reconciliation and “coming together” in the name of the country/state/district/county/school board.

The rest of us will wake to discover that the predicted horror and disaster of electing a (REPUBLICAN/DEMOCRAT) to high office has actually not quite materialized.

We will see that electing a Republican did NOT actually lead us straight to a fascist state run by self-enriching oligarchs. We will also see that electing a Democrat did not – in fact – kill the economy, roll out the Welcome mat to bands of bloodthirsty terrorists, or usher in the new age of socialism.

Yes, we will all pause and realize that the vicious attacks unleashed in the campaigns were not REALLY serious charges. They were all “just kidding.”

But I can’t help but wonder; what is the price we pay for listening to this non-stop venom, in terms of the health of our nation’s soul?

All throughout the Bible, we see that it has some strong words to say about… strong words. Jesus, for example, said, “I tell you, on the Day of Judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”(Matthew 12:36-38, NRSV)

James, Jesus’ brother, warned us about the dangers of the human tongue: “… but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it, we bless the Lord and Father, and with it, we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.”(James 3:8-9, NRSV).

Lord, as I listen to the election returns, help me be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. And help me – and ALL of us – heal from the wounds inflicted over the past few months.

Remind me that red or blue, left or right, you call me to love as you love.




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