All that followers of Christ are to be and do rightly flows from God's intentions for human life together, and the fullest revelation of that comes via the life of Christ. The call to imitate Christ is an expression of this reality. Our blog explores the implications of imitating Christ for all aspects of human existence.
I think these are the sorts of verbal contortions one gets into when religious folk want "religious candidates," but don't help sort out what that might mean and what the implications might be. I can think of at least one Christian president who has been an unmitigated disaster.
In what has to be seen as the ultimate "win-win" (in the sense the dems win no matter what the repubs do on this), a large number of repubs voted against the SCHIP bill in effort to protect the president's veto. Here, we have a program remarkably popular, surely consistent with God's command that we care for "the least of these," and yet, these folks in "god's own party" (small g intentional), are opposed. Good title by Broder. If you have connections with any of these pols, please contact them.
Those of you who read my blog with some regularity know that this is a topic I have taken up from time to time. Yesterday, I had the good fortune of visiting Ginghamsburg United Methodist, where Mike Slaughter is the senior pastor. He introduced a series of sermons that he is calling "Christ Following: The Way of the Cross." I found his introduction refreshing in it's honesty. He said that his staff were referring to the series as the "church reduction series." Why? Well, because following Jesus is hard, and when faced with the naked difficulty of it, many simply choose "no longer to follow Jesus." Yesterday, he focused on the need to establish a "third way" that passed between the shallow "red state/blue state" distinction--one which took the Gospel seriously in all its depth. I invite you to listen to the sermon here. I commend to you these points. First, he observed that, just as we have our "pledge of allegiance" so also did the first century. It was merely three words, but it accompanied many everyday interactions. The pledge was "Caesar is Lord." It was an affirmation that the ultimate power to which folks had to do obeisance was the power of the empire as embodied in its leader: Caesar. To miss this fact is to set oneself up to miss the profoundly political nature of the early church. Seen in this light, the early Christians' affirmation that "Jesus is Lord" stands not merely as an abstract statement about my own internal piety, but rather as a profoundly political statement that undermines "empire" at its most basic affirmation. Sadly, the church in the 21st century has made the Faustian bargain that places more trust in the power of Caesar than in the power of God. Second, he expressed concern for what I have often railed about myself: the fact that churches are so subservient to the state that they fly the Christian flag below the American flag. Or, when they are flown within the sanctuary, the American flag often occupies either the official or de facto position of authority. If you doubt this, try taking the Christian flag out of your sanctuary and, then, after returning it, remove the American flag. Which do you suppose will garner the largest outcry? And, what does that tell us about American civil religion? Third, Slaughter does us a great service in reminding us that following Jesus is really not that easy. When we follow the re-constructed Jesus that makes life comfortable for us, avoids challenging words, and eschews political involvement, life is easy. Oh, we might be criticized for having an "imaginary friend," but, seriously, who would even imagine this any kind of persecution. No, persecution comes when we decide that our faith calls us to principled civil disobedience. Let us recover the "untame Christ" who, though hardly safe, as Mr. Tumnus observed to Lucy, can be trusted because he is good.