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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Through A Glass, Darkly

In this divisive political season, there have been many accusations of blindness. Both sides ask about the other, "How can they support her/him? Can't they see? Don't they get it?" Both sides accuse the other of listening only to their own echo chamber, and for the most part I think that's true. I voted for an independent candidate, but I was blind, too. Like most of the country, I believed the voices that said Clinton was sure to win. I didn't see this outcome.

Actually, I highly recommend going through at least one Presidential election cycle in your life without being loyal to one of the two main candidates. Just sit back and watch it as an objective observer. You'll see with more clarity how each side twists the words of the other or takes phrases out of context to vilify the opposing candidate. Watch the various news channels without a dog in the fight. The channel you thought you most agreed with will not look as neutral as you thought. At this point, I don't know where to find unslanted news.

It seems to have been God's plan for Donald Trump to become President of the United States. I prayed for God's will to be done, and I accept the outcome and will pray for our President's success. God is still in control. I don't see it right now, but I know that all of history is in his hands. If I am tempted to dismiss some views as ignorant, I have only to remember that Jesus forgave the ignorance of those who nailed him to the cross. Their world views and teachers, their echo chamber, had not allowed them to realize that they were crucifying the very Son of God. Had they understood, they couldn't have done it, and the resurrection depended on it. Now, don't carry that metaphor too far. I'm not suggesting that Trump supporters are crucifying Jesus or that Trump's victory will have the same effect as the resurrection! But, I am saying that God is not diminished by the echo chambers on either side of this election.

Still, we can't use that as an excuse. I think that God's word demands that we not justify living in an echo chamber just because God can use one if he so chooses. He calls us out of our comfortable places to see the hurt and pain around us and to respond to it with love.

It's customary when we recite the Apostle's Creed to face the cross. But, last Sunday, a tall guy in front of me blocked my view. That's probably the case on many Sundays, but for some reason, the irony caught my attention this time. Blind to the cross, I recited:
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
These are mysteries too great for me to understand fully - to see, yet I affirm them as true. The cross calls us to do more than enjoy its blessings, but also to love sacrificially as Jesus did. Proclaiming to be sure of anything without the cross in view is a bad idea. I'm not sure I even have the capacity to see the fullness of the cross's demands. I'm only a creature, and my humanity, my environment, my teachers, and the other heads around me sometimes block my view. How might our culture change if we could all realize just how much the other heads around us affect our view of the cross? 

I've been thinking today about all of the various life experiences that have broadened my understanding of the world since I left my rural Georgia hometown. I love that town and its people, but I'm glad my perspective has broadened. Maybe that's fodder for some future blog posts. There are things you can't understand until you've lived, not just toured, outside of your comfort zone. Trump supporters who dismiss the fears of blacks and immigrants should get to know those people better. Clinton supporters who denounce everyone on the right need to get to know them and realize that they're often painting the whole Republican party with an unfairly broad brush. Karen Swallow Prior nails it when she says "Following this election, I’m convinced that we don’t know our neighbors well enough to begin to truly love them." 

Maybe the most important thing we should strive not to be blind to is our neighbors. If you're still asking, "How can they support her/him? Can't they see? Don't they get it?" then maybe you should spend some time with "them." Get to know them. Talk to them instead of at them. Listen. Sometimes, the best we can do is turn toward the cross and ask God to reveal as much as we're able to understand, remembering that at best, we all see through a glass, darkly

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