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culture

Election Aftermath

November 12, 2016 • By

I had the unusual privilege of observing our nation’s presidential election unfold from a different country’s perspective this year. From the country of Ireland, I watched the news coverage and read Facebook posts as the announcement of our 45th president was made. As I did, I was extremely surprised by the reactions that were expressed over the outcome. In my 45 years, I have never witnessed such unrestrained airing of opinion and conjecture over an election.

In the wake of such strong, angry, and sometimes fearful responses, I thought I might remind you of a few truths to help make your day, and the people around you’s day, a little bit better.

First, to those who have been gloating over the victory of your candidate, please stop. Your man won. Savor the fact that you voted for the winner. Throw yourself a little party even, but there’s no need to rub others’ noses in the loss of their choice for president. It shows little class, and doesn’t honor others to declare how right you were.

Second, to those who have been bemoaning the loss of their candidate, please mind how you express your disappointment. There is a younger generation that is watching how you handle this. Your children and grandchildren are likely to take on your fears, attitudes, and even despair. It’s not a burden that’s fair to place on them. I can only imagine what they’re thinking with all of us grown ups going around gloating and bemoaning.

In the midst of all of the visceral reactions to the election, it seems that we’ve forgotten the most important commandment. It’s to love. We’re called to love those of different political bends and love those who disagree with us. Back in my peewee league football days, we congratulated the team that defeated us. It was a way of graciously accepting that we could have done better and a reminder to play smarter next time. And when we won, we humbly accepted the losing team’s congratulation and moved on to the next game. We lost and won in a loving, respectful way and we didn’t villainize the players on the other team.

If you’re in a cynical funk, and really feel the need to place the blame on someone, or a group of someones, you have my permission to blame the media. It’s no secret that they have controlled the narrative for this election and, for the most part, we’ve gobbled up most of what they’ve fed us with very little research on our part to determine if they’re telling us the truth or find out where the candidates really stand. Their job is to attain, and keep, as many watchers, readers, and listeners as possible, and not to lose you with the boring old truth. Don’t believe the hype. Take it all with a grain of salt.

It’s always been a comforting thing for me to know that the president of our country has limited power. For some reason, we behave like we’re electing a god. I remember people saying that Obama was going to be “rounding up Christians”. Well, here we are, still worshiping in public. The POTUS doesn’t have absolute power. He still leads within a system of checks and balances. In addition to that, we hold elections for a new president every 4 years, and one can’t serve more than 2 terms. For over 150 years, the political pendulum has swung back and forth, with Democrats in power for a season, and Republicans in power for a season. At worse, the other party will be in power for a while, and then things will swing back to your party. Just try to relax and enjoy life in the meantime.

Lastly, I believe that we would get worked up far less if we didn’t so easily forget that our hope is not in political leaders. We are citizens in God’s Kingdom, strangers, not of this world. Let’s act like it. Let’s praise God for His goodness. Let’s serve others with the love and compassion of Christ. Let’s invite others into this wonderful Kingdom and reflect the immense hope that is within us!

 


culture, The Church

What’s Wrong With Authenticity?

September 27, 2016 • By

Authentic – adjective ə-ˈthen-tik, ȯ-
True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

“Authenticity.” Go ahead and say it, everyone else is. Try using it in a sentence like, “I just really appreciate her authenticity.”

It makes me feel somehow more intelligent, deeper, and yes cooler to say someone, or something like music or literature is authentic. It’s the buzzword that keeps on giving. And in the church, as you may know, buzzwords tend to stay in fashion long after their expiration date in mainstream culture.

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about authenticity. Truth be told, I love when I meet a truly authentic person. There’s just something refreshing about their transparency and character.

I’ve noticed something interesting about the use of the word though. Like any word that gets overused, it’s starting to lose it’s impact and be used in ways that aren’t true to its meaning. Let me cut straight to the chase with an example. Person X is having a bad day, their patience is worn thin, and they use some dishonoring language towards, or about, the person who just got on their last nerve. What should have been considered an inappropriate use of words is passed off as “just being real.”

Another misuse of the Authentic Card is closely related. Person Y goes on a rant about their boss, their pastor, or their neighbor. Then they say, “I just needed to vent.” Why is this OK among believers when scripture tells us “A fool gives full vent to his anger” in Proverbs 29:11. Venting isn’t an expression of authenticity unless you’re an authentic gossip and a harpy.

The idea that the day we had, the mood we’re in, or the disposition we possess is an excuse to be a total @$$hole in the name of authenticity is a notion that needs to die, especially in the church where we are supposed to be governed by God’s Spirit and word, and not our feelings. We need to stop valuing authenticity over love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The truth is, if we’re following Jesus, then He has put a new nature in us. When we get ugly, petty, or whiny, then claim, “That’s just the way I am” (because we’re authentic, of course) we’re saying that the work God did for us wasn’t enough. We condemn ourselves to a life of being ruled by a sinful nature, rather than His nature in us.

Most of the time, when I hear self-claims of authenticity, it comes attached with an ugly attitude of arrogance. But here’s what I’ve learned about genuine authenticity: it’s humble, it desires to improve rather than broadcasting one’s faults with pride, and it doesn’t judge others for appearing to have it together.

If we truly desire authenticity in our lives, we need to stop seeing it as an expression of our attitudes and feelings and evaluate how authentically we are loving others. True authenticity loves, values, and serves others and, in that, we are loving God. That’s the kind of authenticity I want to have!

1st John 2:5 and 6 says, “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”