Friday, March 7, 2008

King of the Jews?

Hi, PDX!

Roman Governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if he were king of the Jews ( Mt. 27:11). We have a problem with kings here in the U.S. We think we settled that in 1776 or 1789.

I have news. We want a king. Desperately. And we act as though we had one.

The area pastor has a food pantry at his church. He sees poor, hungry people all the time. And he said that government was all about big money and special interests. So far, I agree. But then he went on, essentially saying that he wouldn't be able to change a thing, that the only person he can have a political discussion with was a sibling in another state where he vacations once a year.
I heard capitulation, giving up without a fight. Now I sadly disagree.

We are in a war that threatens to bankrupt us and unravel balances of power that help prevent wars. Supposedly the war is to save us from enemies who "hate our freedoms" and supposedly have the power to take them away from us. Think about that premise a minute. Think about it all day. What "freedoms" would those be?

Recently I talked with a contemporary who grew up in Chicago during the Vietnam War. He quite calmly described his family as "white racists because that's what most (white) people were back then." His parents were as loyal as any Americans he knew. They pledged allegiance to the flag. They were as honest and as Republican as they could be. Christians, too. But they were torn down the middle. Their son was about to graduate college, and the draft awaited him.

They had a problem with the war and had very mixed feelings about having their son serve. They talked about Canada and told their son that if he went there, they would regularly visit him because they would not want him to come back across the border. They knew where that led.

The son of friends had gone to Canada. Then that young man's father died. He came back to the U.S. for the funeral. He was apprehended at the church and not even allowed to attend. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In prison the young draft dodger became known as a "pussy". The prison rapes began almost immediately. They continued for five years. I can't imagine what his anguished mother felt like, powerless to stop it. PTSD. Prison-trauma-stress-disorder.

The above was already well underway when my friend and his parents had their talk. They would sooner cut off their hands than have the same happen to their son.

"Now I have to stop you," I said. "I have a question. Maybe you know the answer, or maybe you don't care to say. But I must ask. In this whole process did your parents ever write one letter or make one phone call to representatives in Congress or to the President?"

None that he knew of. That speaks volumes. First class postage back then was only 6 cents, air mail 10 cents. Other than myself, I have yet to meet another person who wrote a single letter back then--either in support of continuing the Vietnam War or in support of a timely end. Not one. What precious freedoms were exercised here?

So I ask, what freedoms have enemies, terrorists included, ever taken away from us that we don't fall all over ourselves on a daily basis to surrender? Think about that a minute. Think about if for the rest of your life.

Could it be that we have completely deluded ourselves into thinking we live in a democracy when really we want to live in a kingdom? After all, if all the decisions are made by someone else we can freely complain and blame someone else for everything. And not do anything because we don't think we can.

Not the country I swore with an oath to put my life on the line to defend.

What kind of king do we want Jesus to be? And how does the "Jesus creed" of loving God and our neighbors as ourselves (thank you, Scot McKnight!) call us from inertness and blame to action and responsibility?

Ready for a little freedom exercise anyone? No enemy can take away from us what we have already surrendered. Without a fight.


Pastor Roger

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