Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Promises of Democracy

I ran this piece four years ago as the last election came to view. It’s just as relevant today. The strategies of the current candidates are just as twisted. The words of MLK are just as promising. The coming of our Lord is that much closer.

A true leader brings great hope to a nation.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 40: 3

The world changed when John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy by preparing the way of the Messiah. More recently, another man spoke the words during a time of cultural upheaval in one of the most important speeches ever delivered. During that speech, before Martin Luther King, Jr. began his eloquent revelation of a dream, he referenced the valley.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

Then came the heart of the speech and the sharing of the dream, and this man of God included Isaiah’s prophecy. He knew of its fulfillment. And yet, he believed the words held a future hope. For Americans? For peace among the races calling themselves Americans? Most certainly. But Dr. King realized the words were written to proclaim the coming of Christ. To mark the day when the glory of the Lord would be revealed, and all flesh would see it together.

Evil shut the mouth of John the Baptist, but the prophecy rang true and the message did not end. The voice of Dr. King met evil as well. But his dream didn’t end. Great loss was suffered, and great progress made in exalting that dark and desolate valley. A servant of God, one with a vision and a voice, can bring great change, exalt valleys, flatten mountains, straighten what is crooked and smooth the rough places.

But not completely. Evil still lurks. Some claim the media is responsible for stirring the racial tension rising up in America today. In reality, Satan is behind it. And he’s got his claw in politics too. Absurd comments from this unusual crop of presidential candidates seem to result in a tangled, ridiculous waste of time. No potential leader possesses the vision and voice to lift us from the sinking wasteland, or flatten any mountain blocking a secure and united future. 

I long for the vision of a man who was murdered when I was a child. As a white Southern girl, perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate his legacy. But now, as Christian woman, I can see the greatness of his message and his leadership. But I have a dream that One even greater will come to rule the world with truth and justice. Thank God, prophecy will soon be fulfilled again. He is coming.

I have a dream that I can gather with all races to worship in freedom. But it’s not a dream—not anymore. It’s reality every time we gather in my Southern Baptist Church. It would have never been this way in the past. But now, it’s nothing to even note. We’re just family.

I have a dream that come November I can step into the voting booth and mark a reasonable choice. But not all dreams are meant to be. I know this much: God appoints leaders. Some to lead with greatness. Some, by their ungodliness, to bring a nation to turn from their rebellion against God or else meet their end. I wonder what Dr. King’s prayer for our nation would be today. He might still hold firm to the promises of democracy. Hope is not yet lost. Or perhaps he would simply pray: Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Click here to read Dr. King's  "I Have a Dream..." speech.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

National Narcissism

This post concludes my series, “Another Civil War in America?” I’ve gotten a few nasty remarks on the previous posts. Thank God, we are still a nation where opinions can be shared openly. This series leaves many issues unaddressed. I offer no solutions for a nation that is, perhaps, on the brink of anarchy. I have nothing to offer but hope in Christ, which is everything. To read previous posts, click on the titles:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V:

The phrase seems counterintuitive--national narcissism. A nation of individuals bonded together by a common goal, united by a government of their own design, should not abandon community for self-identity. But that’s what has happened. Not yesterday, or last year, or last election. The shift began decades ago. In many ways, the beginning of the turn pointed Americans in the right direction. We were a divisive people, separated by ideals, social standing, race, and privilege. We were, at some point, headed toward rectification. But the passage was forged in egocentricity, and so it was destined to fail.

Woven into the nation there was the precedent call of Christ for His people to love one another, and to love their neighbors. Not with political strings attached. Not with an agenda lurking behind the love. Some Christians did as they were taught. Others abandoned love for the sake of self-righteousness. As well, the nation at large, individually and in organization, chose acceptance or disapproval. Tolerance or bigotry. The churched and the unchurched were not so different in this respect. 

As Americans, we hold to our political sway, or religion, or convictions, and it is our right to do so. But some, with little care for community, are ready to strip away the rights of all with whom they disagree. Behind this contagion of narcissistic behavior is the pull to rebuild America into something that it is not, that it has never been. As a result, we are being ripped apart. We have been carried into discord, and national upheaval is looming.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I consider the simplicity of that first day of celebration. It followed great turmoil, and suffering, and death. It brought together people of different cultures—natives and immigrants. Those brave settlers, and the generous inhabitants of the land, didn’t celebrate the day with ten different kinds of pie. They didn’t argue over how to prepare the turkey. They simply came together in peace.

Of course, things changed. Peace didn’t last. It never does. Except for the everlasting peace of knowing the Prince of Peace. As America changes, again, I choose to live at peace, taking into consideration the good of the nation as a whole. Remembering that I am foremost a citizen of another nation, a holy nation. I will in no self-righteous way demand my rights, but I will stand against oppression. And I will remain thankful for this great nation where God has chosen to leave me for a little while.

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. I Peter 2:13-17