09 October 2012

the blind and the dark

When I was in high school there was a buddy of mine who was blind.  He was older than us, had a family and worked as an audio engineer and editor.  Not having the chance to know persons who were blind before, I had the natural uncertainties of how to act around him.  What I found was that conversations about his perspective on the world were often quite fascinating, and that he often found humor in the way he was different.  And, being at the maturity level of high schoolers, we also would pull little jokes over on him from time to time.

I remember one day when we were sitting in his home-studio, he was explaining some editing work that he had been doing when one of my buddies reached over and quietly turned off the lights.  We sat in the dark for a minute and then he turned it back on.  Since we were in conversation with a blind man, he kept on talking as though nothing had happened; he never realized that the lights had been turned off.  Of course, this was par for the course if you were in this house because it was always the responsibility of those with eyesight to turn on the lights ... if you wanted them.

The blind do not know when the lights have been turned off.

Over the years I have noticed that this is true not only of those who are physically blind, but also for a culture which has lost its ability to discern truth and morality.  The apostle Paul tells us that once we were in the darkness, but now we are light in the Lord (Ephesians 5).  In that same context he admonishes us on living as people who have been separated from the way of the world - to be light in the darkness.  Evidently, our status does not guarantee our behavior; becoming light in the Lord does not automatically cover all of our actions, they must be surrendered daily to that light.  That is to say, those who are part of the church must still strive to be the people of light in actuality, not just in theoretical status.

Paul further tells us to be wise, for the days are evil and that we should not allow ourselves to be deceived by empty words.  Yet, this is the status of the larger church in American evangelicalism today - a people who have not understood the severity of these times, and who have not rightly discerned the days.  With so many powerful and culture-shifting events happening in these last few years, I am still amazed at the number of people who are unaware of the conflicts of good and evil which surround us.  What is worse, is the number of Christians who surprised at the level of hatred, falsehood and immorality which rage through our nation.

The only possible answer to such a failure of the church to adequately assess our world's state of affairs is that the blind do not know when the lights have been turned off.  It is sad (and sometimes depressing) when we realize just how unaware the average person in our modern society is to current events, history and general knowledge.  Jay Leno has built part of his career on parading the socially inept and factually clueless across our television screens.  We should not be surprised that the average person - let's say those who do not hold a commitment to the kingdom narrative - does not have a good grasp of the world's ills.  But it is quite disconcerting when those who are active members of the church - even those who are immersed in the Christian sub-culture of American evangelicalism - have no idea the level of atrocities which swirl around us every day.  We expect the culture to be spiritually blind, but we do not have room in our faith for the oxymoronic category of blind Christ follower.

The present election cycle is perhaps the most polarizing ideological season in our nation's history.  Even those within the church are being swept into the mudslinging and character-questioning that is typically reserved for those stereotypical immoral and greedy politicians.  Of course, this is the result of placing undefined hope into the hands of a self-proclaimed unifier instead of resting it within the gospel where it belongs.  I think that the religious left is going to quickly learn the powerful lesson which was given to the religious right over the past few decades - that political change is only seasonal change; true change comes only from the change of heart.

Questions of truth are now abounding once more, and there is a religious devotion to this president unlike any we have seen in some time - the unwillingness to challenge his words, the covering of his failures (even when they are televised to more than 67 million people), and the aiding in his open lies regarding terrorist actions against our nation.  There is more religion on display in the media in this context than anything they will 'tolerate' in the church's message about Jesus.  (To help prove my point, consider how the previous president was challenged on a daily basis for his policies.)

Furthermore, there is talk from some on the religious left that claims the conservative position is one-sided because it does not have enough emphasis on social justice or eradicating hunger among America's children.  First, have we not yet had enough of how conservatives are going to starve children and elderly?  How many years can we sling this crap around (after it has been answered repeatedly)?  Second, my point of polarization comes to the fore once again, for this leaves off the table the fact that the president's healthcare mandate requires that all Americans, regardless of their ethical stance, must finance the termination of life in unwanted babies.  There is no evidence supporting the notion of Republican plan being designed to starve the unfortunate (even though we still have such poverty after generations of the left's war-on-poverty), but there is plain and clear evidence that the financial blood of millions of aborted children will be spread around to all of our hands.

The apostle Paul tells us that we are not to be deceived by empty words.  Whenever the church allows the empty categories of hope and change to color and shape our mission, empty words have deceived us and we have lost the ability to shine a light into the darkness.  In no uncertain terms am I calling into question the faith commitment of anyone, especially not over the single vote for one political office.  But I do raise concern over what messages are being heard by the believers in our churches today.  There are many voices which clamor and scream for attention, but only one still, small voice which speaks peace and truth into our lives.  Whenever the believer is taken in by the noise, especially in the support of an administration which has operated with open disdain for the foundational biblical principles on which this country was founded, which has been caught in a repeated string of lies about its own operation, which openly speaks about the stupidity of its own American people to understand its own perceived brilliance and achievement, and which has 'evened-out' our culture not by the lifting up of the poor and downtrodden but lowering down those better off, then we have an internal blindness which cannot distinguish between our Lord's light and our world's darkness.

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