Us and Them

Let’s tackle a controversial topic. Us and them.

We’re living in disturbing times. The obvious truths appear to be blurred, expediency is acceptable, character is irrelevant, mistrust rampant, the end justifies the means. Conspiracy theories abound as armchair critics, politicians, and advocates peddle their wares. Political correctness intimidates many. Tolerance for opposing views has been traded for accusation and insult.

Sadly, much of the Christian Church is silent in the midst of this chaos. Instead of being a voice of reason, truth, compassion, and integrity, too often it joins ranks with the masses. Politics is not the vehicle God uses to bring about his Kingdom on earth as in heaven. Politicians are not his mediators of justice, only Jesus can do that. Politicians, pastors, CEO’s, and bankers are all servants, not masters.

When someone like Donald Trump rises to power he is not exempt from law, morality, truth, and accountability. I’m writing about principle and integrity that needs to be applied across every political, spiritual, business, sporting, educational, and entertainment institution. Why is it ok to call Harvey Weinstein, Hitler, or Nixon to account and yet the distorted rhetoric of Trump has become acceptable to countless millions? If that isn’t profoundly disturbing, what is? It’s the tone, disregard of people, inflammatory whining, avoidance of responsibility, disregard for law – that’s the issue; all character.

John the Baptist was beheaded because he challenged Herod’s immorality. Jesus was crucified because he refused to be intimidated by political or spiritual leadership. Countless Christians in the early church were thrown to wild animals in the Colosseum because they would rather die than attribute ‘lordship’ to Caesar. Truth was important to declare publicly. All of those incidents might have been compromised. The people involved could have crossed their fingers and avoided death and sacrifice. We’d have no heroes or martyrs. Pilate, like many in public office, used smoke and mirrors, washing his hands muttering, “What is truth?” Obfuscate and get on with your agenda, what the hell!

Too many of us have been hijacked into power plays, thinking that political influence aligns with accomplishing God’s will. Even the Christian political agenda has been distilled down to abortion, LGBYQ issues, and perhaps Black Lives Matter. All those are obviously seriously important, but attention as to how we accomplish such matters has been sidelined. There are many, many more issues but at the top of the list -character still matters. Paul reminds us that without love, we are merely clanging, noisy, gongs. And we have a gong-show underway – in may parts of the world! Truth is not self-evident but requires conversation and consideration of substance and facts.

The answers are not found out there. This is not about accusation and blame so much as a call for self reflection.

We’re not pointing fingers but looking in the mirror at ourselves. How compromised have I become? What do I accept without questioning because it’s what I want to hear? Do I hold myself to the same standard that I expect of others? Do I ask questions to dig deeper in order to understand? Do I shoot from the hip allowing feelings to control the trigger? Do I attack and disregard people because they’re not perfect, rather than listen to what they are saying (admittedly that’s sometimes hard to discern). Does tone of voice and demeanor matter (Jesus placed love at the top of his list of priorities – very tough love)?

In this day and age have I examined my attitude toward authority (of any kind)? Where am I a servant to others? How do I receive criticism or a challenge to my ideas? Do I exhibit humility? Do I listen well? How easily do I change my mind? Do facts and solid information matter? How easily am I swayed by whomever speaks the loudest? How strongly rooted in Jesus and His truth am I ? Do I live from thoughtful consideration of history and facts (as much as I can) or do I allow feelings to sway me beyond reason? Am I a lone ranger in life, or am I growing and maturing in the company of strong and thoughtful friends? Am I willing to stand up and say ‘enough’ when required (politely of course) or am I part of the silent majority? Do I complain behind closed doors while silently smiling in public?

The leadership we have today is an indication of who we are collectively. No one survives ‘at the top’ without enablers. Prayer is vitally important, but action and voices also need to be seen and heard for transformation to occur. Truth never prevails on earth without cost, because too often it demands ego and self serving to bow the knee. Our fallen nature doesn’t take kindly to such demands. However, once the knee has dipped to Jesus, all else should follow as a response to the amazing grace already bestowed upon the one bending.

May God restore us all to a better place. Where respect is held in high regard as we strive to discern truth in a world adrift in a fogbank of confusion and tangled intrigue. May we learn again how to be tolerant, how to allow differences while advocating freedom for all. May Christians give to the world what our God has granted all (those close to Him and those far off) – freedom to think, explore, decide, accept or reject. May we learn how to be friends again, trusting, on a journey seeking truth, purpose, hope, and meaning for all.

May we learn to lose (or not accomplish what we want this time) with dignity. Jesus declared, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” He’s probably prayed and declared those words over you and me many times. How about we release the same words over the world right now? God knows, we need it!

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

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