Category Archives: politics

A Post-Election Prayer

CHICAGO, IL (November 9, 2016) — In the wake of a grueling and often polarizing election season, Covenant president Gary Walter offers a prayer of healing for the church and nation.

Lord, the election is over. A new president will assume office, and those who will serve our nation, states, and communities have been determined by the free exercise of the free will you have given to people.

Lord, we weary of partisanship and want better of our discipleship. Forgive us where we have been complicit in what we have done, and not done, in reinforcing division and derision to divide and disparage.

You tell us that your Kingdom is not of this world. We pledge anew our allegiance not to a donkey, not to an elephant, but to you, the Lamb.

In so doing we look to your Word for how to live as aliens in a foreign land, how to serve the world you love with values from above.

And so we hear the admonition of Paul to pray for those in leadership, both those currently in and assuming office. Consequently, we pray for good judgment in the midst of complex decisions; we pray for character, humility, and empathy in the temptations of power; we pray for skill in the disciplines of leadership; we pray for a growing congruence of their convictions with the vision you have for the flourishing and inherent value of all they govern and serve.

And so we see the example of Daniel, seeking the common good. Lord, though he lived in exile among the Babylonians, he recognized a shared life. Like Daniel, help us to neither disengage nor disrespect nor lessen our convictions. Help us be more like Daniel, people whose convictions remain intact but who  remain engaged to seek the best for others who share common hopes, aspirations, and challenges for themselves, their families, and their communities.

And so we listen to you, who call us to be salt and light. Salt and light—you give to us sensory images, tangible and demonstrable.  Lord, you call us to make a difference more than offer an opinion. Making a point and making a difference are not the same. Lord, help us live out real ministry in the real world that shows the real difference you and the values of your Kingdom make.

And so we heed your call to be peacemakers. Empower us to reach across the divides, to seek understanding with whom we might disagree, granting that in each person there is worth as one made in your image.  May we also be mindful of coming alongside those whose peace now churns in new uncertainties, vulnerabilities, and fears about what the future might hold for them and their families.

Lord, we want better for our country than what we have experienced of late. And so we must expect better of ourselves first and foremost as citizens of your Kingdom seeking to be better citizens here. With malice towards none, find us faithful as your ambassadors living out faith, hope, and love.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Election Day Prayer (Stanley Hauerwas)

Sovereign Lord:

Foolish we are, believing that we can rule ourselves by selecting this or that person to rule over us. We are at it again.

Help us not to think it more significant than it is, but also give us and those we elect enough wisdom to acknowledge our follies.

Help us laugh at ourselves, for without  humor our politics cannot be humane.

We desire to dominate and thus are dominated. Free us, dear Lord, for otherwise we perish.

Amen.

~STANLEY HAUERWAS

Political Fervor & Christian Apathy

This is a timely repost from about 5 years ago when MainStreet was just getting launched. It was during another local election season where people were passionately campaigning for and against a school referendum. You can sense my urgency and deep burden for this community.  Regardless how we vote on November 8, may we vote Jesus leader of our lives each day and make his Kingdom our primary obsession. Enjoy! -JB

We’re moving closer and closer to another general election season. As I write this, our community is in heated debate over the school referendum vote only a couple days away. I’m amazed to see the passion people have toward both national and local political parties and their agendas.

The local paper is glad to fill their pages with impassioned letters to the editor, urging citizens to make their vote count, and stand up for what’s best for our community and schools. There are signs in every yard as I drive through town. People are glad to go door to door, leaving a pamphlets and doorknob hangers. Thousands of dollars are spent on mass mailings.  Websites are created to champion their agenda, and chain emails are spread widely. Rhetorically savvy YouTube videos are circulated to rally support.

The bottom line is this: people care and are committed to championing their cause — especially when their kids’ education and/or property taxes are at stake!

I’m grateful to live in a democracy. I encourage people to exercise their civic right and go vote. But as a Christian trying to “seek first the Kingdom” and a church planting pastor trying to rally a community around a far greater cause than a school levy, I keep asking myself the question:  Continue reading Political Fervor & Christian Apathy

2016 Election – Food for Thought

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For those who are struggling to support either candidate in this upcoming election, Ed Stetzer has a great series of posts at The Exchange blog at Christianity Today.  This one below provides interesting food for thought. Note: I have no idea who this 3rd party candidate is, and am not hereby supporting him. But I resonate with the general message to those who cannot bring themselves to vote either Clinton or Trump.

READ HERE

Which Government Do You Serve?

I’m reposting this timely piece I wrote about 7 years ago. Ahhh…simpler political times. Food for thought during this crazy election season.

DAILY ILLUMINATION | Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life.

I’m reposting this article as we begin our series on the Sermon on the Mount.  Every time I go back to this Kingdom Manifesto, I’m reminded by how easily Christians today boil Christianity down to private piety, overlooking the fact that Jesus calls his followers, the church, to be a new society living his New Way — a way that touches every sphere of our lives — political allegiances included!  Peace, JB

The political climate in America this week is boiling hot on the heals of Sunday night’s signing of the Obamacare proposal.  There is an apocalyptic like mood on the conservative right, with talk show hosts prognosticating on the eventual collapse of America as we know it.

Today, I walked to the gas station for a soda, and a perturbed man on the brink of desperation was waving a copy of the newspaper in the face of the clerk…

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A.D. Miniseries Commentary – Resisting the Way of Violence

One dynamic that Jesus films help bring out that often gets missed in common Christian teaching is how real and popular the “zealot” movement was in Jesus’ day. These were religious “freedom fighters” who wanted to take up arms against Rome and try to incite insurrection and political unrest in the Holy Land.

Jesus rejected this way completely. “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” he taught. The A.D. series is doing a great job bringing out the Jewish-Roman hostility and ill blood between them. Pilate shows the absoluteness of Roman pride and power. Rome’s message is clear: We rule the world. Every knee must bow and every tongue shall confess that Caesar is Lord.

Well, the Zealots would die before they did that.

Interestingly, so would the Christians.  (Before long, a courageous Christian named Paul will write a treasonous letter to the believers in the Roman city of Philippi declaring right under Caesar’s nose that “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”)

But these two groups could never join together and could never see eye to eye. In episode 4, there is the scene played out where Boaz the violent Jewish assassin shows up in the Christian camp, and Peter and Boaz have a very strong conversation. Boaz reminds Peter that the story of Israel and the Hebrew Scriptures are full of warrior leaders of God, and he doesn’t recognize this “Jesus.”

Peter makes it clear where he stands and walks away with a burning stare and holding his tongue. He knows that Jesus has ushered into history a new epoch for the Jewish people and the world. “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” But I say to you, “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” Umm, yes, that means those Romans, too.  Continue reading A.D. Miniseries Commentary – Resisting the Way of Violence

Cruciform Justice 1: Introduction

CruciformJusticeHow long, O LORD,
must I call for help before you listen,
before you save us from violence?
(Habakkuk 1:2-4)

He came closer to the city,
and when he saw it, he wept over it, saying,
“If you only knew today what is needed for peace!
But now you cannot see it!
(Luke 19:41-42)

There is no place worldwide where Habakkuk’s cry is not heard; and Jesus’ tears still wet our cities’ streets today. The world’s pain and suffering cries out for justice and peace. Yet what does it look like when they finally prevail? And, more importantly, when and by what means will it actually come to pass?

So we ask, “What is needed for peace?” These perennial questions have had many proposed solutions. Yet, in a world where injustice still reigns supreme, it appears all human attempts to establish a global kingdom of peace and foster universal prosperity have so far ultimately failed.

Christians have taken different sides on this issue. Some quarters of “Christendom” have allied themselves with the political powers and socio-economic systems of the day, attempting to Christianize the worldly systems and use them as God’s instrument for peace and justice. Other Christians have separated themselves from society altogether, placing upon it the stamp of divine condemnation, and simply awaiting the rapture from this hopeless world.

Political and social activism is advocated by the former, while the latter focus solely on ‘soul-winning,’ shrugging off social involvement saying ‘it makes little sense rearranging the deck furniture on a sinking Titanic.’ Both of these approaches fail on biblical grounds. What then is the church’s appropriate response to the world’s injustice and suffering? And what ecclesial action (if any) is expected of us by God while we await the new creation — the kingdom “wherein justice dwells”?

Drawing significantly from the works of John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas and Jurgen Moltmann, the forthcoming series of posts will argue that the popular definitions of justice used in mainstream political and theological debate need to become more Jesus-shaped and our values more cruciform if the church is going to be faithful in its task of following the way of Jesus, i.e., the way of the cross, in the world today.  (Note: This is the unique call of the church, not the world, secular governments, etc.)

Join me on my search for a more Jesus-shaped, cruciform understanding of justice. Read full series HERE.

*This series is excerpts from a term paper I wrote back in 2004 at Bethel Seminary. -JB