Ahhh. Recently on Facebook I discovered the relief of the "hide" button in my newsfeed. I was growing irritated at the number of "friends" who kept posting note after note about Obama becoming Hitler or the US government trying to oppress its citizens, etc.
Just today I met with a friend from an actual totalitarian country and heard again some of how life really is under a real totalitarian government. The Tea Partiers or Tenth Amendment folks would say it's the same as what's happening or about to happen in America. But it's paranoia and fear speaking. Not facts at all. Of course they have their data which they find to confirm their suspicions. But it doesn't matter what the facts or data say. They'll find something to make themselves even more upset and afraid, whether it exists or not. When I think of the reality of what my friend's people are going through back in their country, this kind of talk from the Tea Partiers is simply insulting to actual oppressed peoples.
The United States is nothing close to a totalitarian society, nor is the government anywhere near totalitarian. Obama—faults and all—is nowhere near Hitler, and conditions in America are nowhere near what they were in pre-war Nazi Germany. However, the psyche of many people in America *is* similar to that of Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany was able to take hold of the national psyche through fear of "threats" and fanning national pride. Fear and suspicion abounded. In America today the strongest similarity to "Nazi Germany" is the atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and plain hatred among the Tea Party and conservatives.
The hardest thing for me is seeing this coming from people who call themselves "Christians". Last night I mused to myself that maybe if a Republican becomes president next time around, my "Christian" friends might go back to proclaiming the gospel in their online comments instead of posting up profanity-laced articles about Obama. But if a Republican is elected, likely the evangelization efforts of my friends would simply transfer to the conservative agenda like when they supported Bush.
Many "Christian" friends have said they don't give Bush a pass. It seems they think they have learned their lesson: now their gospel is just "don't trust the government". But they don't realize they were not hoodwinked by Bush or Cheney or anybody. It's not about rights, and it's not about the Constitution (as if it were the 28th book in the New Testament canon). They were hoodwinked by paranoia, the spirit of fear, and national pride. Being "anti-government" hasn't freed my "friends" from fear, pride, and having their passions easily manipulated just as they were prior to and during the Iraq war.
My friend I mentioned earlier who is from a totalitarian country longs for his people. He aches for them and wants them to be free and happy. The people who are controlling the country are crazy, he says. And they are. They're full of fear and suspicion, and their hatred comes to the surface all-too easily. My friend, living here, must watch his country's drama continue thousands of miles away. The tragic thing is that I am starting to know how he feels. I'm watching things in America from thousands of miles away. Just like the agents of the government in his country are full of fear, hatred and suspicion, in the same way the "movement of the people" in America (Tea Party, etc.) is full of the same kinds of fear, hatred and suspicion. America is not moving anywhere near totalitarianism yet, but this kind of spirit is laying the foundations for it in the future.
One day a week my Christian "friends" get together in churches and listen to the gospel, sing about it, and maybe even speak it to one another. They rejoice in God's grace, in the love He has given them, in the fact that He did not count their sins against them. They rejoice that God's love for them has born all things, believes all things, and has not rejoiced in their evil or kept a record of their sins. They behold this grace and give it to one another... once a week. And then they go out and show it not.
There is no greater threat to the United States than the church setting aside the gospel of God's grace in favor of political empowerment. And there is no greater damage "Christians" can do to the cause of Christ than to go on setting the gospel aside while proclaiming Christ's name at the same time. Christ's name is being blasphemed among the nations because of this. The nations abroad, the nations of unbelievers at home, and the nations of people who are Christian but move away from "Christians" because of the amazing un-grace coming out of "Christians".
Around the time of the election I had a dream that I saw Obama in the presidential office, but his face was darkened. Not in color, but in heart and spirit. When I woke up I thought it might be a warning dream so that I could pray that he not become evil or corrupt in some dark spiritual way. Yesterday I remembered that dream and did something that I had not done the first time: I asked God about it.
What was the darkness? Was it that he became evil or corrupt?The sad part is that if any of my "friends" read the short dream I shared above, cynically they would simply exclaim that Obama is already evil and corrupt. But they felt so before he was even elected. They would have felt the same about any "Democrat" elected. There is nothing I can say to them, nothing anyone can say. It is a spiritual problem. They might admit it is good to "pray for Obama", but after that moment of benevolence is passed, they'll go on wishing he was dead, cursing him and joking about what should happen to him.
"No, not that."
What was it, then?
"He became hardened and embittered."
"Because Christians hated him so much and did not show him My Son or My grace."
The Bible warns us to guard our hearts against roots of bitterness which can spring up and defile many. I'm watching many hearts being defiled—and the gospel being defiled—from thousands of miles away. I'm grieving and crying. Part of me cannot bear to watch it, so I'm hiding newsfeeds and deleting "friends". It's too frustrating, and trying to talk rationally does no good. I am not going to argue about it. I'll just pray from now on.
The package of "truth" is nothing without God's love. And without God's love, we don't know what God is actually doing. We start to miss what He's doing. And like many Jews did in the gospel story, we may eventually disown Him. In fact, it wasn't that the Jews had things "right", but rather that salvation was coming from them, and that salvation was Jesus. And He came not because of them, but in spite of them.
How often do we pride ourselves in our "group"—that we know God and "they" don't? How often do we pride ourselves that we are moral people because we have "the law", and that "they" do not? How many people have been wounded by our judgment? How many people have not gotten the aroma of Christ because we gave them an aroma of judgment instead? We have God's word, and His word will be spoken. But is His salvation going to come to non-Christians because of us or in spite of us?
Look, He's reaching out from the crowd, from our crowd! Many of us are judging, and although He is among us, He is reaching out. He sees there are some people hurting on "the other side." Some are rejecting Him, but some are hurting. Others are confused and just don't know. Many of us don't care. Some of us "in His crowd" see what He's doing. Some of us are angry. Some of us are being moved and having our eyes opened. But without waiting for us, He is stepping across the border. He is standing in the gap. He is reaching across.
What are we doing?
See also: "Give Freely!"