Gracious words are like honey –
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Somewhere along the way we began to think that we are in control of our lives and the lives of others. Invincible even. Maybe it’s when we began electing officials to represent us in government that a fiery red democratic spark burst into our brains and we discovered that we don’t have to actually be in charge to be in charge. All authority and power works for us now and what we say goes. But who can blame us? No one wants to be at the mercy of unjust leaders. It’s the groan of the earth. All over the world there is only a handful of people who decide how the rest of us live. It’s not until the weight of unjust power squeezes its people to the point of popping that we begin to resist and fight back. But those moments are more rare than we’d like to think and even fewer people fight back than we’d like to believe.
It’s actually amazing how humanity has thrived all these years despite the cards being so stacked against us. It’s even more amazing that Americans are arrogant enough to believe that one man, Donald Trump, can undo millenias worth of thriving and surviving. But that’s the story of America. Not really the world. We like to think that our individual decisions in our voting booths can and will change the trajectory of the world and the seasons. That’s what happens when politics becomes your religion. It’s all encompassing, all powerful, omnipotent, the source of all good and evil. Nevermind how individually, even communally, we don’t really have all that much power and control. I know that everyone would like to think that they’d have single handedly been the social justice crusader of the Civil Rights movement who ended Jim Crow and segregation in a single breath and march, but the truth is that we’re all more cowardly than we admit to ourselves. Actually, I know exactly what I’d have done in the 1960’s. I’d have kept on gardening, baking cakes for my neighbors, watched the news and read the papers with my eyes wide open and my mouth gaping. Humanity is so cruel. But everyone has to get up and get dressed in the morning.
For every table that Jesus flipped over (which was only one) there are mountains of kind words, humility, sacrifice, and gentleness that he spoke. We love that story, don’t we? Jesus entering the temple with a whip and righteous anger throwing out the hypocritical religious elite. “That’s how you do it,” we think, forgetting or neglecting to remember that five days later Jesus was willingly hanging on a cross, dying for those same people. Don’t forget that culture loves to take the story of Jesus out of context and neglect to tell the gospel. So do Christians. Because who does that? Who gives up all power and authority and dominion over heaven and earth for a cowardly, power hungry, helpless, hypocritical people? We hate that story. If it had been us in Jesus’ place we’d have taken the whip and enslaved everyone who looked different, believed different, thought different, acted different, dressed different, had different body parts than us and forced them to serve us, worship us, believe like us, act like us, vote like us, live like us. I know. We’ve done it. We do it. And we’re powerless to stop. Even in our quest to end injustice and oppression we act unjustly and oppress. It’s a cycle we can’t escape. Are powerless to end. And no matter the type of government and political system we find ourselves in, no matter the autonomy and power we believe ourselves to have, we can never escape ourselves.
Not until we give ourselves away.