Saturday, 5 May 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Presenting the Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Republic of Your Heart

Brothers and sisters of humanity, we have been the victims of a Great Lie. We have been led to believe that our salvation will come in the form of a mighty Leader, one who will arrive amid the unfurling of banners and the blare of trumpets, and tell us how to live. When we know how to live, then we will be free.
We are all too content to gloss over and ignore the lesson we ought to have learned from history - that the perfect rules don't add up to a free society.
If there ever was a beautiful and perfect political system, it is socialism/communism. Now don't you right-wingers jump all over me just yet. Democracy may be the best of the worst, but it is neither so pure in its ideals nor so faithful to the inherent value of humanity as is a socialist philosophy. Democracy says that there is no right or wrong, but only different needs, ideas, experiences. The one of these shared by the greatest number of people should rule. Socialism says that there is right and wrong, that equality is right and that oppression, even of one person, is wrong. It says that people are valuable based on their being human, and that the value of all humans is more important than the wants of any number of individuals.
But flying directly in the face of such ideals, we have the testimony of history. Have socialist and communist systems set humanity free?
Rather, they have been abused and used to oppress vast populations. 'Why?', the idealist cries. 'Why? What flaw appeared in the implementation of those ideologies?'
The flaw is in us, friends. The ideas are pure and lovely still, and they mock us from the bookshelves.
This is the reason that Jesus came. This is the reason that he refused to stand up and reject the oppression of the Romans over the Jewish nation. This is the reason he didn't deliver a new "Ten Commandments" for Christians. This is the reason he didn't lead a revolution to liberate the downtrodden. He wasn't trying to perfect the world, or your country, or anyone else's country. He knew that the problem wasn't in the world, or your country, or anyone else's country. He knew that the problem was in your heart and mine.
And that's why Jesus didn't ask you to elect him, or his followers, for government. He didn't ask you to stop people from having abortions, or from marrying gay people, or from shopping on Sundays. He didn't ask you to make people pray in schools, in government offices, or at football games.
He's not the Presidential Candidate for the United Nations of Earth, or for your country, or for anyone else's country. He's the Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Republic of your heart.

5 comments:

Heather said...

Hi, Jenny.

**This is the reason that he refused to stand up and reject the oppression of the Romans over the Jewish nation. ** Are you saying this in a overt rebellion way only? Because if so, then I would agree with you. Jesus didn't walk out one day, grab a sword, and say, "Follow me and we'll cast out the Romans!" But I do believe he stood up and fought back against oppression through almost sneaky means -- such as saying, 'Put God first' or 'Walk the extra mile.' I believe he was throwing off the oppression by giving people the tools to show the Romans just how oppressive their system was. Sort of a 'use the system against itself' sort of way.

Which would make sense, because when did Jesus ever behave in a worldly way? :) It always gives me a sense of awe to see how clever he was in the Gospels.

I also want to say that I really wish that there were more Christians like you as a spokesperson for Christianity. I think many of those in the spotlight do a disservice to Jesus' message. I know we've had our theological disagreements, but I truly do respect you, and your stance. Based on the calmness and sincerity you've demonstrated in your posts, I can tell you've had a long journey, and it's brought you peace.

jennypo said...

Heather,
I believe the reason that the leaders of the Jewish people had Jesus put to death was not because they were stupid, stubborn, or just mean. I see nationalism behind their desire to get rid of a man who was getting a "grassroots" following and yet refusing to become a political leader. He told people to pay their taxes and focus on worshipping God instead of getting out there and fighting. He quelled the forces that tended toward rebellion and overthrow at every turn. They wanted him to step in and lead them to victory, but he showed them where they had been wrong instead of where they had been wronged. He refused personal power.
For this reason, he was dangerous. I see it as significant that they lobbied for Barrabas' release over Jesus'. Barrabas was an insurrectionist- he had been involved in a rebellion of some sort.
We are seeing the same thing today. Pride and nationalism have blinded our eyes and Christianity has become a political party to vote for rather than a radical change within the heart. We have gained a temporal, political power, but God has been obscured and worship destroyed.
The New Testament advocates being subject to laws and traditions (even ones that are clearly inapplicable - ie. food laws) for the sake of others... EXCEPT in relation to our own worship of God. In every way, it advocates obedience to political powers, even evil ones, not because they are acceptable to God, but because they are immaterial in relation to our purpose - worship.
Thanks for your comment. I too respect your willingness to see the other side and to step away rather than gloss over arguments. It has been a long journey for me. I feel, in a way, like I've stepped over the edge of something and fallen, but in the end been caught by what is much firmer and more stable than the thing I fell from.
And even though my God doesn't untangle all my snarls, doesn't give me the best parking spots, and doesn't influence all my professors to give me A's, he does give me peace even when my life sucks. I think I know a little bit about what Peter was telling that slave...

Heather said...

Jenny,

**In every way, it advocates obedience to political powers, even evil ones, not because they are acceptable to God, but because they are immaterial in relation to our purpose - worship.** We might be disagreeing on this one. :) I think part of worshipping God is to fight against the oppressive political powers -- but not in a world-like way, but the way Jesus did. Fight against them by not letting them make us jaded or bitter, but always let love shine through. And work to change them so that those who are opporessed will no longer be so. One of those, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." I guess it's more of a don't respond the way the politcal powers would, but respond the way God does -- passive fighting, in a way.

**And even though my God doesn't untangle all my snarls, doesn't give me the best parking spots, and doesn't influence all my professors to give me A's, he does give me peace even when my life sucks.** Oh, thank you for this. There are areas of Christianty that sell itself as, "Follow God and you'll have a problem-free life." For me, it's always been, "Follow God and and you'll get support for your problems." God has the "annoying" habit of using trials to help us be stronger and faithful, rather than erasing problems completely. ;)

jennypo said...

Heather,
Actually, we do agree on this one. I believe in fighting oppression as an individual, with love, just as you said. There is a huge difference, which I think you point out well, between political non-resistance and acceptance.
Jesus was here to fight oppression, just not on a political level.
"The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'" (Luke 4:17-21)
But he knew where power was - not with the government, nor with social awareness, but with God, in hearts that love.
Thanks for pushing me to clarify this, Heather. I didn't realize how ambiguous my answer was on this issue.
And I think you are right about the Christian life being one of support rather than freedom from inconvenience. Actually, the Christian life should have more trouble than the average life, if we set out to fight oppression with love.
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ..." (IPeter 4:12,13)

Bobble said...

Thank you. I needed to hear this discussion today.