8/12/2012 Speak the Truth


Ordinary Time (Proper 14)
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33, Psalm 130, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51

If there is a more appropriate scripture passage to offer up during an ugly, negative, bare-knuckled-attack campaign season than these words from the writer of Ephesians I don’t know where it is:

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. –Ephesians 4:25–5:2 NRSV

Sure, I know: as much as practically everybody says they hate negative campaign attacks, the sad fact is that year after year they keep on working. Still, we here in the United States have almost three more months to endure the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of campaigning–most of it negative.

I suppose one way to deal with this New Testament passage is to put on blinders and say it’s not supposed to deal with anything but the internal workings of the church, the body of Christ. There’s serious truth to that, of course. But why can’t it extend farther? Many of those active in politics claim (some far more brazenly and arrogantly than others) they’re Christian. Yet I see no difference between the way they act and those who do not wear the mantle of Christian disciple.

Consider that more than a few right-wing, conservative, evangelical Republicans are metaphorically holding their noses this year while marking their ballot for a presidential candidate who happens also to be a Mormon (which they believe is a non-Christian cult). And they’re doing it because, let’s face it, they hate the incumbent President so much (a man who is a Christian but many people cling to the falsehood that he’s a Muslim, a “non-American,” and an “other”) they will say or do or believe just about anything. There is so much anger, bigotry, and racism that spills over into all walks of life. And, sadly, even some preachers spew this from their pulpits.

How did it all descend into such a mess? Can anything be done about it? Is there hope for American politics? Is there hope for America?

I believe there is hope, because I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, who came first and foremost to inaugurate the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Clearly we have a long way to go before we witness that kingdom in its fullness. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, even if it’s still in formative, almost invisible stages. That kingdom will find its expression, by the grace and power of God through Christ Jesus, with disciples who testify of their citizenship in that kingdom along with citizenship in the countries in which they live.

Yes, I know. I’m probably crazy. Just another fool for Christ.

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About Rich Brown

Rich Brown is a writer, blogger, editor, and publisher. His most recent book is "Speak to the Bones: How to Be a Prophetic People in a Time of Exile" (Isaac's Press).
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