If there is a more appropriate scripture passage to offer up during what already promises to be another ugly, negative, bare-knuckled-attack, political 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 fifteen more months to endure the billions 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 some 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 three years ago more than a few right-wing, conservative, evangelical Republicans metaphorically held their noses while marking their ballot for a presidential candidate who happened also to be a Mormon (which they believe is a non-Christian cult). And they did 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.
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.
*Portions adapted from a 2012 ForeWords blog posting
- Redeeming Time (jonahmb.wordpress.com)
- Steadfast Exhortations (mitsilancer.wordpress.com)
- Pentecost 10 – “One” (Ephesians 4:1-16) (revtucher.com)
- The Concept of the Church in Ephesians (mgriffinrobert.com)
- 7/15/2012 Set Your Hope on Christ (richbrownforewords.wordpress.com)
- New Testament Love “One Another” Fellowship Commands (davidicalhiphop.wordpress.com)
- Are you In? (cracked-pot.com)