As you know, earlier this week the two major presidential candidates vying for our votes participated in a town-hall style debate. As a context for debate, the US economy stood under threat in the wake of profound loss of confidence in the governments and financial structures undergirding global economies. People tuned in burdened with stress, fear, anger, anxiety, and uncertainty. Questions put to the candidates bore eloquent witness to their feelings. Granted, these woes had only recently formed like some kind of perfect storm and slammed us all. And so, granted, one could hardly expect a detailed plan for addressing the aftermath of the storm’s visitation.
Remarkably, however, it was as if the candidates emerged from some protective political bubble, armed with their best stump speeches capable of multiple but superficial variations, which they then put to use to respond (but not to answer) questions from the moderator, the studio audience, and via the Internet. The questions came from the midst and from the edges of the storm and the candidates responded from the bubble, as though the storm weren’t ravaging or we were over-reacting. On these matters no true debate happened that mattered, just a lot of disappointment.
Not to belabor the point, but …
- No clear, impassioned acknowledgment of the reality
- No promises to learn from the mistakes and not to repeat them
- No vow to deal with the crooks and reckless who are most responsible
- No acknowledgment that all (or at least most) of us are complicit through relentless pursuit of things and through seeking quick and easy returns on investments (perhaps "gambles")
- No first steps identified that show signs of serious reflection and suggest specific targeted action
- No sober assessment that the typical partisan approaches to government, business, and market contributed something to the development of this perfect storm. leaving obviously partisan responses to it equally obviously inadequate
- No convincing sign (despite repeated assertions) that the candidates can rise above partisan ways of seeing and responding
- No credible assurances that we will find a way, when we put aside our special interests in a concerted pursuit of the common good AND
- No good answer to the question of sacrifice–what sacrifices will you call the people to make, as well as no answer to a question as good if not better: what sacrifices are you willing to make in the course of leading us through the storm, should you have the chance!
Friends, I would humbly assert that what is missing is precisely a transcendent Kingdom (or any) perspective. Jesus is Lord, our foundational and core confession insists. Well, Lords get their way. Lords lead. Jesus the Lord, who announced a Kingdom come, knows the way and leads us in that way. And, astonishingly his way offers a way forward with respect to many of these questions. His way suggests that the perfect storm leaves the landscape littered with opportunity for those who will truly follow his lead.
Just to begin thinking about how: Jesus the Lord said if you want to live you must die, if you want it all, you must give it all up, if you humble yourself you will be lifted up when the time is right. Think about it and then think again about the question of sacrifice. As you think, remember something else he taught, one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things possessed. Amazingly, those who lose it for his cause somehow gain much more. He promises we would never have to do life alone, but would send his Spirit. His Spirit is not the Spirit of bondage or fear, but the Spirit of family love, so that when one receives his Spirit one cries Abba–dear Dad! Dad who knows and who cares, even when we don’t know, even when we think we know but in fact don’t, even before we can ask when we really do know. Dad who really desires what is best for us. Dad who gives himself for us, like every dad worth his salt as dad does for his children. Dad who is so trustworthy we don’t need to worry. Dad whose gifts are such that he even somehow makes it possible in the light of his love for us to come clean, to admit we need help, and then somehow provides us what we need to say, "OK, I will trust you." Dad, who when trusted, makes the rest history–that is, his story. A good, good story with the best ending, which is not really an ending at all, but a new beginning, minus all the perfect storms.
Yes, lots of opportunities for those who know, and trust and share their DAD’s bounty.
Yes, lots of opportunities for those of us who know that Jesus is Lord and who follow that way, come what may, no matter the party lines.