Friday, October 24, 2008

Aching for Empire

With only a few days to go until the election for the next United States President, people in America are indifferent, depressed or wildly enthused. As a conservative in this country known as the USA, I get caught up in the political game known as elections. We relish the idea that as a people we get to choose or elect our leaders. We forget that someone else chooses -- long before we do -- who will even have a shot. It really is an illusion of control. Perhaps that's why a record turn out this year would still expose an apathetic electorate that has become disillusioned with our democratic process.

I recently attended a conference centered around the Old Testament story of the Exodus. This story was used in a variety of ways to help people see how "empirical" our world is. Men and women are devoted to empires. Humans seem to ache for empires. Back then it was Egypt, today it could be the US or Japan or choose. Actually, you don't usually chose, your parents chose for you and their parents for them and on and on it goes.

People often get confused when they find out that I'm a Christian. Attitudes towards Christianity are similar to attitudes towards our an all time low. Self-inflicted stereotypes have left many believing you can't be an intelligent educated human and believe in God or Creation. [Funny that you can only be considered intelligent if you believe that no intelligence was involved in our existence; only random acts or accidents. Another topic for another day.] I'm educated and I'm a believer. I don't/won't apologize for that.

But consider this: Nations come and go. World leaders are born and they die. Presidents are voted in and ushered out. Through all of this, faith lasts. However, when Christianity becomes part of the "empires" of the world -- when it is linked to government and politics -- it too will fall when the empire falls [not the real Kingdom of God, but those manipulated into Empirical actions to support the state]. During the past few decades, American Christians have sought to force the US to become a Christian nation (I said become because I don't believe it is or has been a Christian nation; only a nation that has embraced some key Christian teachings and freedoms).

The problem with this attempt is that you cannot legislate morality and you can't confuse an empire of the world with the Kingdom of God. Empires exist because of their willingness and desire to impose their codes and laws on others; Jesus lived without forcing people but by serving, loving and calling people. As a matter of fact, the only pushing Jesus did was centered around those we would term the "religiously elite." There wasn't a vote, a call to arms, political action committees or legislative authority. The authority of Christ came from who He was and was reinforced by what He did.

It's interesting to me that in a nation where religious freedom is supposedly protected, belief is on the decline and where religious freedom is forbidden (i.e. China), belief is on the rise. This has caused great concern for many who live in this nation and know what happens when God decides to remove His blessing from any nation (believing or not). Imagine what God's reaction is to a nation so blessed and yet so anxious to chase Him out of existence!?!

In a few days I'll go cast a vote. I'm not too excited about it because I've come to believe that the system (while still the best system in this world) is corrupt top to bottom and corrupts the very few good men and women who get into our political arena. Those who have selfish and personal agendas are fueled by those who despise faith, are funded politically, financially and morally by these people and eventually find themselves one of these people. Neither the experience of John McCain nor the freshness of Barack Obama will be able to stand on principle because wealthier, more powerful people pull the strings of the marionettes we call leaders.

I've stopped aching for an empire. Don't get me wrong, I still hurt for my nation, but won't seek to burden my faith with the misguided meanderings of a people who despise the God I love and the Jesus I serve. And this is where I leave you this week: Moses was born into a corrupt empire. He worked for justice and the freedom for the oppressed. Jesus was born into a corrupt empire. His ministry was self-described with these words, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Sounds a great deal like Moses to me...but without all the mistakes men are prone to make.

In this year, it doesn't make one bit of difference who becomes president: We still work to encourage the poor, fight for freedom, help the helpless and give a fair shake to the oppressed. In doing this we proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and prove that we're Kingdom people and not political pawns!

God bless!