God of Wholeness and Holiness
Take Care of Yourself

Shining Your Light




hoto by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

There are good people of good conscience that I know. They pray for guidance about their politics and their electoral responsibilities. They formulate principles that guide them based upon their understanding of scripture and ethics. They evaluate candidates and initiatives based upon their principles, values, and priorities. Then, vote differently from others who do the same.

I am not bothered by this when it happens that way as long as everyone is seeking goodwill, truth, and following this exercise with integrity of heart.

God likes to remind us that no matter how much insight He bestows on us, no one gets it all and no one gets it perfectly. He seems to want us to know that we have to struggle individually and in community for truth.

Unity grows out of diversity of culture, perspective, experience, language.

We have no perfectly uniform common language, not even among English speakers. There are many versions of English in this country as an example.

We have varieties of experience with suffering.

We have differing memories of how things used to be.

Our nostalgic impulses are shaped by how we experienced events that were for some dreams come true and, for others, nightmares. Some missed them altogether, oblivious to that part of our shared heritage.

It takes work and it takes civility to make the work of democracy work.

We cannot accomplish anything positive if all we do is call each other names or malign the intent of the other. It is tempting to do so once we have what we consider the correct insight or priorities, but we must resist.

It we are going to have a participatory and representative democracy, we have to do it and we have to do it with imperfect leaders.

We will disagree with our leaders and about our leaders. It does not mean that we devalue anyone as a human being.

There are people in public life who behave very badly, some in their personal lives, others in their public life, some in both.

Lest any critique of public behavior that I speak be taken out of context: I believe in redemption and reconciliation, freely given by grace to the least deserving.

I believe in the enduring possibility of repentance for the vilest of sinners - hope of new life, abundant forgiveness, bountiful mercy, fresh and new beginnings.

The vilest of attitudes can be transformed.

The ugliest pride can be melted.

The most boisterous boasting can be tempered with humility.

The most resistant heart can be melted.

The most hardened heart can be softened.

The same mouth that speaks mean, ugly, dishonest, hateful, and divisive words can be filled with words of compassion, encouragement, blessing, and affirmation. The very motives that drive us can be transformed.

There is nothing God cannot do in a heart truly humbled by Him and willing to confess its own need.

Newton realized this as grace taught his heart to fear and grace, his fears relieved.

If I speak against any other attitude, words, deeds, or behavioral patterns, it is in the light of this reality: Grace is greater than all of our sins.

All criticism of the public behavior of public people is in the light of my great need, depravity, and sin and the grace of God that is transforming me as the mercy of God renders me clean only through Jesus.

That being said, there is a place for calling out damaging and public belief systems while they are still a part of the shot-calling mechanisms in which we participate. We have to name the sin in order to deal with it and find hope.

And when this is done, some people of good will shall disagree with the priorities and perspectives of others.

But light must continue to shine and those enlivened by the Spirit cannot be silent on matters of conscience.

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” - Luke 8:16-18 (ESV)