I didn’t think I would go here, but here I am…
So this is the deal.
I just finished watching the Inauguration, and just like last time, I was a pot of simmering and conflicting emotions. I love the pomp and circumstance of our government. The sight of the Marines standing guard over the pathway through which all the dignitaries will make their way to the platform; the sea of flags lining the street leading up to the Capitol Building; the soaring beauty of our patriotic songs. It’s all quite cool and wonderful. That I can actually participate in this pomp and circumstance is something I do not take lightly. My freedom to do so was hard fought on a long, painful road.
It is a sight of utter amazement to watch a Black man take the oath of the highest office in the land. Even the second time around, I find it hard to believe. Again thinking of that hard, long, painful road that has led to this day, and knowing many of my own relatives and others of my race spilled their blood to make it happen, fills me to such emotion I cannot explain. Not to be gross, or a downer, but as a Black American, this is not something I can just casually cast aside because I may not agree with his policies. It is an historic moment; we have all witnessed history. And we should take note of it.
But then there are things that I see or hear that gnaw at my spirit – the invocation of God’s name for things that His Word makes clear are wrong; the pluralistic nature of each prayer that was prayed. As a Christian, these things burn my insides and make me cringe. I am, quite frankly, concerned for our country. I would never classify myself as a Republican or Democrat – I am not truly conservative or truly liberal. I fall somewhere in the middle, in a no-man’s land that is comfortable and uncomfortable on both sides at the same time for vastly different reasons. Thus that simmering pot I mentioned earlier.
If I stay focused on that, my heart and mind will implode and I dissolve in a puddle of anxious thoughts and emotions. But I must not stay in this place; I must move forward to something deeper, something richer. Something that will last long after America passes from the scene.
A conversation with a friend yesterday crystallized this for me. We were talking about a particular pastor that was initially invited to participate in the Inauguration, but after a sermon he preached against homosexuality surfaced was forced to withdraw from the ceremony. This pastor does wonderful work in the area of human sex trafficking; he also takes the Bible seriously and believes all of it is the Word of God, not just the parts we like. It was implied by one pundit that no one in their right mind believes all the Bible has to say. I guess I’m not in my right mind, and neither is this pastor. There was uproar and outrage from some quarters of Christendom; but for me, I was not surprised.
I love my pastor for many reasons, and one of those reasons is his constant reminder that the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of America are not synonyms. I grieve the state of our culture and government, but my hope is not in either of them. I desire to be a light in the darkness that surrounds me, but I have no illusions that all will be drawn to that light. We are called to be faithful to our God, even if it means being rebuffed and rejected by our society – and we should not be surprised, dismayed or indignant when it happens. It is right to grieve; it is right to mourn. But we should expect it. Not because we seek to be martyrs, but because we were promised in scripture that it would be so. The closer we get to the Lord, the less we will look like our culture, and the more they will marginalize us. That’s just as it is.
We live in a country where we have the freedom to go to any church of our choice. We can boldly proclaim the name of Jesus to all who will listen – but let’s not kid ourselves that being faithful to that message is going to score us political points or make us popular. Can we die to the idol of relevancy? That is what I feel must happen. I will make clear – I am not for abortion; and believe the Word of God teaches us that God calls homosexuality sin. And yes – I am in my right mind (wink). And I believe these things because the Bible says so, and I have reasoned and studied it out and can come to no other conclusion. I don’t expect this to make me popular. I expect this to make me hated by some. But I cannot let that stop me from being faithful to my God.
My point in this post is not that we stop proclaiming the Word, but that we not be surprised and dismayed when we are rejected for it. Instead, we ought to rejoice, pray, and continue to share the love of Christ and the truth of scripture, trusting in the Lord for the outcome.