It has become trendy to accuse social or political adversaries of endorsing “fake news”. Some event occurs, and news sources under the guise of objective reporting embellish the story with subtle nuances unique to their bias.
You’ll notice, according to FOX News, for instance, President Trump never makes a mistake, or when a faux pas is committed, it’s easily justified by explaining the unique influences that boxed him into a no-win corner. He’s like Captain America in a tailored Brioni suit, valiantly making America great again, right?
From the CNN perspective, however, our Chief Executive Officer better resembles Antman doused with Raid; an embarrassing example of the lowest form of life — a slug, maggot, or cockroach. He’s yet to do the first thing good for America, let alone great. He is a sexist, racist, narcissistic homophobe who doesn’t even know how to comb his hair, right?
Who do you believe?
Our nation is so polarized, citizens have evolved into political pawns, valued only for our vote and our money.
Political parties mail fake surveys worded carefully so there’s only one real option for answering the multiple-choice questions, all leading ultimately to a plea for your donation now and vote in November. Candidates “approve this message”, comprised primarily of innuendo, untruth, and manipulation.
You wonder if politicians take a secret oath, saying “I swear to tell the truth as I see it, the whole truth spun for advantage, and nothing but the truth depending on who is listening, so help me God.”
I spoke at the Murphy Theatre for Leadership Clinton many years ago, advocating for unity and cooperation toward a common cause. I cited Jesus as an example of self-sacrificially pursing a greater truth, rather than stagnating on penny ante differences that isolate people.
I really touched a soft spot when I asked if Jesus would most likely register as a Republican or Democrat. Let’s take a look.
When reading the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), Jesus was advocating for meek, mournful, selfless, peace-making, persecuted persons who seemingly were outcasts from societal affluence and opulence. This is left-leaning to me, as political liberalism generally sways towards providing for the perceived underprivileged.
Jesus was like that a lot. Repeatedly the gospels relay accounts of His heart for the sick, disabled, unclean, mentally challenged, poor and oppressed. On two occasions He fed thousands free of charge, irrespective of a designated income guideline, household size, or employment status.
He had a heart for people; all people. So, I wonder if Jesus might register blue?
Though grace is free, it isn’t cheap. Jesus gave His very life to reconcile the disparity between His divine nature and our sinful one.
He paid the ultimate price to purchase freedom for us, and on the other side of our securing His forgiveness there are responsibilities we bear. That’s why Jesus said we need to “count the cost”, and why Jesus’ brother, James, said “faith without works is dead”. The Apostle Paul laid it out bluntly, saying “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
Republicans are more of this quid pro quo mindset than Democrats, believing that in life we each reap what we’ve sown — what goes around, comes around.
So, from this perspective, the Bible seems to tint towards red.
The question: Blue or red? The answer: Neither, or perhaps both. If not careful, our political stance can impinge on our freedom to be independent thinkers, and will often come to define who we are. And so, I wonder why people are so compelled to self-identify by party lines, and segment away from the other side, harboring disdain and disrespect, even judgment and ridicule, because we don’t see eye to eye?
To paraphrase Rodney King, can’t we all just get along?
If your Bible is handy, or you have the app on your phone, take a quick look at the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verses 38-42. It’s about Jesus and the disciples visiting Martha and her sister, Mary. Here’s the gist of what happened.
Jesus and the gang stopped in unexpectedly, and it was the custom to feed your guests if you were honored by a visit. Martha dutifully scurried around getting dinner ready, while Mary sat enthralled with Jesus’ presence and enraptured with every word He spoke.
Martha got ticked that Mary wasn’t helping her out, appealed to Jesus, and was told that Mary’s focused attention was “better” for her than flipping burgers. Okay, I get it. Martha was doing what she needed to do, as was Mary.
There’s a most interesting, almost hidden, teaching point for us in the story. It says Martha was “distracted by all the preparations”.
The core of the dilemma, it seems, wasn’t her putting on the grub, but losing perspective on priority.
You see, there is a higher truth than politics, government, national identity, race, or what’s for supper, and our personal biases, short sightedness, and selfishness can distract us from experiencing it.
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Jesus is the ultimate truth; not fake news, but a reality grounded in fact.
By keeping an eternal perspective, we can reduce the distractions that pull us towards mediocrity.
There is a truer truth, an eternal truth, that can anchor our souls to the realization our lives pass by quickly, accelerating like a high-speed train on rocket fuel. So, let’s not get derailed by errant priorities that ultimately, eternally, will be but minutia in our lives.
(This argument, blue vs. red, is offered simply as hypothetical food for thought. The point is that we should not let an elephant or a donkey, or other misplaced priorities, get in the way of our pursuit of the Lion of Judah. It’s first things first.)
Next Friday let’s dig into Luke 12:12-21, about living a well-prioritized life.
You’re welcome to take a peek at that passage beforehand if you’d like to.
Dave Hinman is Pastoral Elder at Dove Church in Wilmington. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.