The Spirit of the Age 2016
November 9, 2016
It’s after 4 AM and I’m wide awake. It’s not a good thing for a guy with a sleeping disorder to be awake like this but, hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up on it later today.
Since I’m awake and I have just seen the results of the United States Presidential Election, I believe it is time for me to organize my thoughts and communicate them with a pastor/preacher’s heart. You see, no matter what happens in my life, in my deepest being I will always be a preacher. I may love philosophy, history, and strategy games yet, at the very core of my being, I am someone who believes they have been called by God to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
So, what does this have to do with the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States? Well, to answer that question you have to understand what I believe to be the essential kerygma (or proclamation) of the Christian faith to be.
Here it is:
Over two thousand years ago, God’s Age of Change and Fulfillment came into being through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it has been growing throughout the world since that time. (Acts 2) The world is progressing more and more toward ultimate fulfillment and, while it may not always seem like it, the Kingdom of God is growing in this world in both obvious and not so obvious ways.
What this fulfillment is meant to look like is found in Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew 22:36-40, “‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’”
This is Good News. Love God. Love Neighbor. Everything else will shake itself into place. The concept of neighbor is further elaborated on by Jesus when He describes one’s neighbor as someone who is both culturally and religiously different yet commits acts of kindness and mercy. One’s neighbor may or may not live close to you but they will be found in the hearts of both the native and the foreigner, the friend and the enemy.
Lastly, this Good News is expanded upon by the Apostle Paul who states in Christ Jesus all human divisions have been, are now, and will be destroyed. In Christ there is no division of race, sex, gender, political or economic status. (Galatians 2)
Now, how does all of this fit in with what appears to be a worldwide reaction to globalism and the loss of local and national cultural identities? It seems the European issues with Brexit along with the election of Donald Trump in the United States is a response showing humanity’s innate fear of the disappearance of these tribal distinctives.
Stated as succinctly as possible, I find humanity’s desire to build walls between people groups as a direct rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a rejection of the proclamation God’s Spirit has been “poured out upon all flesh.” (Acts 2:17)
Please understand, I do not blame Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, nor leaders who supported Brexit in the UK. These leaders are not the problem. They just happen to be people who are really good at understanding the spirit of this age and this zeitgeist has many people retreating into a local tribalism which rejects and repudiates Jesus’ concept of the universal neighbor.
In the midst of all this, I have to ask myself, “How do I respond to the spirit of an age which is so inwardly and selfishly tribalistic that it desires to bar people from communities and nations whom they consider to be outsiders?”
How do I respond to the spirit of an age where I have heard men and women say, “We want to get what belongs to us and to hell with those other people!”
How do I respond to the spirit of an age where people scream at folks of another religion to “go back to your own damn country” even when they are second or third generation Americans?
How do I respond to the spirit of an age which seeks to force immigrants (sojourners) to leave just because they didn’t enter this country the right way? (As if there is a “right way” to enter a country.)
How do I respond to the spirit of an age which seeks to drive LGBTQI people into the shadows once more? Shadows in which they are ignored, beaten, and/or abused.
How do I respond to the spirit of an age where people of color are being told their lives matter less than the lives of white people? (You should realize this statement is written by one of the whitest people you will probably ever meet.)
How do I respond to the spirit of an age which says generationally inherited wealth is enough of a qualification to usher you into the presidency of the last, great superpower on the planet?
But most of all, how do I respond to a spirit of an age where people take it as common wisdom that all they should worry about is “getting what’s mine!”?
Well, I will respond as I have always done. I will proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ which says, “All are welcome at the table. I ate with Judas and I’ll eat with you.” Immigrants are welcome, people of other religions are welcome, LGBTQI people are welcome…..and even Donald J. Trump is welcome.
I don’t care what walls get built, I’m going to come along with the wrecking ball of the Gospel and do my best to knock them down.
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