Strap on your seatbelts?
  • Seatbelts in church?

    The world of politics and the world of religion are on the same collision course in the United States. They are both careening towards destruction, and the fault starts and ends with our political leaders and our church leaders. For the purpose of this article, when reading, please feel free to insert your own political party and your own religious organization. Any of them will fit nicely, which makes it sad and extremely unfortunate!

    First lets talk about common enemies. On the world stage, we barely have any enemies. (with the exception of Jihad)
    The Cold War has ended so there is no longer a large global enemy that serves to bind us together. Churches don’t talk much about our spiritual enemy, the devil. The Bible constantly warns Christians to beware of Satan becoming visible in our lives in the form of lying, anger, unforgiving spirits, accusations, insinuations and temptations. Church- goers want to be spiritual but many don’t believe they need to engage in spiritual warfare. If the church doesn’t talk about our common enemy, Satan, we have fewer common areas in which we might bond together.

    Because our country is becoming more ethnically diverse, our political leaders are asking less and less from those cultures to assimilate or try to meld into their new adoptive country. They are not required to learn cultures or traditions. This practice breeds social mistrust. We feel we don’t know or understand each other, as deeply, so we can’t count on each other as strongly. This leads to a lack of trust in humanity. If churches would teach more about thankfulness and being thankful, this would lead to trusting God more. Think about it. In order to be thankful, you have to acknowledge that someone helped you in your success or happiness. This recognition leads to trusting in that entity. For church- goers that entity is God. Trusting in God helps you to develop a better trust in others.

    The Internet has created echo chambers that allow us to live in a media world hearing and seeing only those views that match our own. The old media system has been replaced by a new, leaderless non-system. We can completely wall off any and every view except those that mirror our own. This creates a scenario where our views are not challenged, shaped or improved but rather are hardened and made more extreme.
    As a way for the old media to be relevant, they pursue poor quality volume rather than good quality fact-finding news. To outmatch the endless Internet media, the old system media is forced to be noisy, outrageous and radical. This only proves to harden our views. Churches can help break this cycle by offering more social time, community time and face-to-face reality time. The more we leave our phones and computers behind and join the physical-personal reality, the more chances we have to grow in our views, opinions and improve our judgments in policies and in people.
    In politics, the left and the right have shifted from facts and policies to identity-group politics. The right are now the red part of our country considered right-wing, racists who are tearing our country apart. The left are the blue shade of our country who are considered to be socialists and the authors of political correctness and thus tearing our country apart. Since identity-group politics doesn’t associate the groups with particular facts or policies, it leads to pitting the two groups against each other. In the United Methodist Church, the Bishops are asking the General Conference in February of this year to vote to allow each church to decide their stance on the gay marriage issue. This is pushing the church into the identity-group politics. This will pit churches against churches and ultimately associate them as either a red or blue church.
    Money talks in both politics and in church. Big donors in politics now fund political action committees, aka PACS. These PACS now can set much of the national agenda for campaigns. A vocal church donor can affect a church in much the same way.
    In politics we need leaders who will follow our U.S. Constitution and lead by example with open-minded discussions about policies and facts. In church we need leaders who will follow the Bible and lead by example with open-minded discussions about church policies and Biblical facts. Both have a pretty decent playbook to follow if they would just return to opening and following it. People are people. We all have a ticket on the same ride called life. We all have one way onto this ride and one way off of the ride. Without leaders who will follow guideposts, we are likely going to continue to experience a bumpy ride. So for our own sake, lets pledge to encourage our leaders to follow their guideposts and lead by example. In the meantime, lets strap on our seatbelts…together!


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