We slipped to number 3. Wyoming and Utah pushed Oklahoma down to number three as the reddest State in the Country after Election 2012. Reading Tweets and Facebook status updates by some friends and acquaintances left me wondering if we did not need to offer interventions.
The consistent consolation sounded like a therapist had suggested better self-talk, “Just remember, God is on his throne.” Post after post seemed to offer a variation on this mantra. I wonder if anyone realizes how this sounds? Defeated. Distraught. I am pretty sure the Apostle Paul did not have an election in a Democratic Republic in mind when he wrote,
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
I realize the polarization of the Country and the conflict Christians, at least many conservative Christians, felt choosing between President Obama and Governor Romney. I know many who not only did not care for the choices but in protest chose not to make such a decision. Many a conservative sounded like Hollywood Stars whose penchant it was to say, “If Bush gets re-elected we are moving to another Country.” They didn’t. Conservatives won’t.
Most troubling is the tonal quality of dejection. “Well,” kicking at the rocks under foot, “I guess we’ll just have to get back to doing what we ought to be doing.” That sentiment should be deconstructed, if conservatives were given to such.
We betray our citizenship with Jesus when bowled over by what should not have been a surprise. I cannot even get my mind around the idea that Ed Stetzer received negative comments for suggesting someone should expand their news sources beyond Fox News if they were surprised by the outcome. But wait, “They are fair and balanced.” Right.
Part of me wonders just what have Christians been taught they should be doing if after an election all we have to appeal to is God’s sovereignty over all things and that we must get on with the call of God in Jesus. Was it not Jesus who mentioned what one does once the hand is on the plow?
Rooted deeply in my conservative upbringing in Southern Baptist life is a vein of fear. Over the years of reading the Scripture and keeping a keen eye on Jesus, it appears those who should be fearing are those who should be getting it but don’t. This is the way Michael Card sets up his thematic work through the Gospel of Luke. The corollary is that those who should not get it do.
Back in those days, and very present in these days, was an appeal to the fear of every imaginable crisis accompanied by exhortations to “work ‘til Jesus comes.” The world was still quite cold in war. The one thing that may be said about the Cold War is that there were fewer instances of collateral damage from errant drone missiles. We have hot zones in highly volatile regions and terrorism has visited our land of freedom. Fear has not decreased, only increased. What about Christians who read Jesus who tells us only to fear him who has authority to cast to Hell? Or, be anxious for nothing?
Fear motivated us to constantly parse our words used in prayers for salvation. Get the wording wrong and you likely jeopardized your chances at streets of gold.
Several years ago I was chatting with Brett, my longtime Christian Counselor friend. I know, you knew I needed a therapist. On occasion we have permission to work together to help people who appeal to us. We talked about anger. He pointed out that in recent reading on the subject he now believed anger was not itself a root emotion. Fear, he said, lay at the root of anger. In a cause effect relationship, fear gives birth to anger.
Maybe this is why conservatives come off as so angry many times. They are fearful. Out of a sense of self-defense, or protection, people act on that fear with anger. Think about this. What if this is the case? When we read the Sacred Text that reminds us that complete, perfect, love casts out fear, it takes with it anger that blossoms from its seedbed. If conservatives exhibit anger, could it be they need love too?
It dawned on me. We need not get back to doing what we were doing that produces the same sort of disappointment when in this world things do not go as we hope. Instead we need to appeal to the Apostle Paul who in the face of much more dire experiences noted that we should in our bodies manifest the life of Jesus. Remember, one of our favorites, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son.”
Maybe in our discipleship to Jesus we talk more about the way and manner of Jesus’ love such that it becomes the thing that we do when putting the hand to the plow. Rather than looking back and re-investing in the fears from which we have been freed, we move forward plowing the ground with the incomprehensible love of God that shows up in the way we live our lives with and for others.
Our steadfast love in the face of any and every opposition will remove the antagonisms that come from our own fears expressed in anger and would indeed demonstrate the material realities of God in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself.