At the risk of sounding like the spiritual version of a talk radio host, I offer three commentaries on current events.
During the presidential campaign, many commentators warned of the danger of mixing religion with politics.
Few if any, however, warned against our human tendency to make politics into our religion. Yet, this is what some people did.
To accomplish this morph from politics to religion, it was necessary to name a god and a devil, and that we did. Not since we elected JFK have we demonstrated the propensity to paint one candidate as the political Messiah while labeling the opposition “the Antichrist.”
The demonization and idolization of candidates brought on some of the same unhealthy consequences Moses warned against when he saw his people idolizing the graven images of people or animals.
He quoted God as saying, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
The campaign was full of unhealthy “graven images,” from the T-shirts we bought in bulk to the effigies some burned.
Both the incoming and outgoing presidents are men, made in the image of God. I never was clearer about this than I was during a recent visit to an Episcopal church.
During the service, congregants expressed prayers for our president by simply stating “We pray for George.” They meant no disrespect. Their emphasis was on the fact that our commander in chief is a flesh-and-blood man. He’s a man who needs God’s help every bit as much we all need God’s help.
The man that is leaving office is not a devil, nor is the one replacing him a god. Both are men. Both need our prayers and encouragement.
Speaking of demonizing, I’ve not seen a better example than the auto executives appearing before congress asking for a bailout.
It’s easy to dismiss these guys, who flew their corporate jets to D.C., as being the kind of fat cats who got us into this mess in the first place.
However, I have to ask: How much did my own greed play a part in this financial mess?
Did we refinance our house just to pay off the debt incurred during our past five Christmases? Were you one who claimed it wouldn’t matter what kind of car you purchased as long as you could afford the gas?
In the end it did matter.
In looking at those auto executives, I could see my own greed, and I heard Jesus’ advice that I remove the log in my own eye before I attempt to remove the splinter in the eye of another.
Ted Haggard knows a lot about splinters.
He splintered the mega-church he pastored in Colorado Springs, Colo., when it was learned that he had sex with a prostitute. His initial response was the Clintonesqe claim, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Whoops, I mean, “sex with that man.”
He quickly admitted his sins, however, and enlisted the help of a reconciliation committee to restore his life and family. Now, he’s fired that committee and is selling insurance.
Recently, he made a cameo pulpit appearance, in which he criticized his community of faith for publicly discarding those who grievously fail. Haggard believes the church should use these public failures to demonstrate restoration and forgiveness “through the secular media.”
Great concept, Ted. The point also could be made that God gives us opportunities to mess up real bad from time to time. We needn’t avail ourselves of all of those opportunities.
Now that you’re back, in the media’s eye, don’t blow the chance to demonstrate how far humility and restoration can bring you back.