Do you have any friends with strong political beliefs? Maybe their beliefs are so strong that you won’t bring up certain topics around them for the fear that they will go off for hours on how they feel about the topic. Maybe you’re in a conversation about your favorite band and they work in the latest political issue. You know what I’m talking about. You might even be, “that guy.”
Lately I have been thinking through the relationship between the church, the people and the government. Churches have always taken stands in the context of history, and in the context of history the church and state were more closely tied. However, the secular state is somewhat new. Over the time of recorded history there has almost always been some sort of religious system attached to the governance of the people. The laws and ordinances usually reflected the values of the deity of the state. The secular state draws its values from tools such as the constitution or laws.
So in the secular state there is a tension that emerges when people have different value systems. They want to push their value system on the state. Among the different flavors of Christianity some churches begin to look less like Christ and more like a particular political party. When one church gains a reputation for looking like a political party, then guess who will never step foot in that church?, Probably members of the opposing party. I remember in college, Campus Crusade for Christ sponsored a question wall, which each student was allowed to post questions. One question read, “Does God hate Democrats?” While entirely untrue, the perception was that the Christian God is a Republican.
Many Christian leaders who engage the political have some amazing beliefs and thoughts, they have great intentions. However great these intentions are, we need to ask the larger question about what are we doing to the community? Are we ushering in a culture of polarization? In which way are we introducing political discourse, are our conversations “seasoned with salt” and covered with grace? Is it a “my way or the highway” conversation? Are we dividing instead of uniting?
Certainly there are issues, which are near to God’s heart. Certainly we have to protect the poor, the widows and orphans, we need to defend the cause of the fatherless. We have to be political because after all we are by nature political animals. But how will we use it? What will the tone of the discourse be? Will we be known for our love, or something else entirely?
For some reason for the past seven years I have been working primarily with students who have grown up in a household that lacks a father. There are exceptions but by in large dad is out of the picture or might as well be.
I wonder if these dads know the anger that their kids have. I wonder if these dads realize that they are getting their kids off to a tougher start than others. I wonder if they realize the affect on their child’s sexual identity or I wonder if they realize the lifetime of hurt they have caused. I really wonder these things because like I said, I work with these kids, not dads who abandon them.
This weekend I found out that some friends were going through an adoption process, it didn’t really click to me until I got home but one of the ways that God is described is as a father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5) In the New Testament it says that we are the sons and daughters of God and that we are adopted into his family.
I always thought of the impractical nature of, God as a father to the fatherless, “You should meet my dad, he’s so metaphysical!” Children need a hand to hold, they need a face to grab, and they need to see the reality of their father in their lives.
It is so heart wrenching to see these kids and their issues when I know what it is like to grow up with both parents who were fully present. God as father to the fatherless is a nice thought but not too practical, unless you think that you might be the physical extension of God’s hand into a child’s life. God could be calling you to be the physical reality of a spiritual adoption. What if God’s solution to abandonment and fatherless kids are adoptions and mentorship’s? What if you are God’s solution?
When Emma was six months old she had this toy that we call, “Dr. Star.” It was a music box that projected an image of a star on the ceiling. You can’t just go to Target and ask for “Dr. Star” because it is a name we just made up. I have an odd habit of giving her toys back-stories. But that toy put her right to sleep; she stared at it and went out.
Lucy is now six months and a little more difficult to please. She doesn’t buy into the Dr. Star fanfare. Lucy sleeps fine for all of her naps, but to go to sleep at nighttime she wants to be held. She wants to feel the love. I know it’s okay to lay her down for the night when she stops rubbing my arm and face. When I hold Lucy before she goes down I get the sense that all she wants in the world is to feel her father or mother. She simply wants to know that she is loved. Sometimes when she is crying all I have to do is rub her back and she is better.
This all got me to think that there are times in our lives when life is difficult or we feel pain. During those times we just want to reach out and be comforted. Just like the women who had been bleeding for twelve years who took a risk and reached for Jesus. Just like Peter as he began to fall through the water and reached out for Jesus. We all have that innate grasp that reaches toward the heavens in times of trouble. But I guess the question is who or what are you reaching out to? When times get tough, what is your first instinct to reach toward?