amy courts: en route


A Summation of My Post-Election Feelings
November 5, 2008, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Culture, Faith and Faith Life, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I wrote the following in a note to a family member, but thought it appropriate to post here as well, in hopes that it makes clear why I have a little more hope today than I’ve (not) enjoyed over the last eight years.

__________________________

What excites me about the prospects with Obama in office – and intrigues me about the widespread fearful response of so many Believers to his election – is that the system which so many call and fear as “socialist” (implicitly evil and utterly wrong) is actually the kind of community living Christ Himself designed, sanctioned, and ordained for the Church. What we see happening in Acts 2 is exactly that: socialism, if not communism, even. The equal distribution and sharing of all wealth, goods, and property among all people so that no one is richer and thus more significant, or poorer and thus less significant.

As our Nation has progressed in its Capitalist ventures and ideals, we’ve watched a new sort of caste system develop in which the rich get richer (not because they’ve *actually* worked harder, hand-to-steele, but because they’ve lied better, and climbed ladders of people, stomping on others to get to the highest seat where they enjoy great power and wealth but little responsibility) while the poor are brushed aside as unwanted and unworthy, because – for having lost a job or been unable to find one in our “great” economy – we’ve deemed them lazy freeloaders.

I’ve watched a system develop in which – and have even heard dear friends and family say, no holds barred – those who can’t afford things like basic health insurance don’t actually *deserve* it.

I’ve heard health care called a privilege of the wealthy rather than a right afforded to all humans by virtue of breathing.

I’ve heard conservatives rail on about the evils of abortion as part of a so-called “pro-life” community, and yet once the mother does right by carrying to term and having the child, she – and her newborn – are left to fend for themselves, vulnerable to judgement and condemnation when they seek the government aid they need to fill their stomachs and keep a roof over their heads.

I’ve heard pundit after pundit, friend after friend, Christian after Christian, call on those kids growing up in violent, drug-ridden neighborhoods to “buck it up and do something about their situation because it’s their American right and ability to do so,” but unilaterally deny them every opportunity to rise above circumstance. From refusing them proper education to condemning them for their parents’ or neighbors’ sins. We call them out of the life of poverty and crime we’ve abandoned them to, refuse them aid, and then condemn them for continuing the only cycle of life they’ve ever known. As if, put in their situation, we’re certain we would know exactly what to do and how to do it (and have the confidence to achieve it).

Suffice it to say, I’ve watched – horrified – as Christians talk about “christian values” and yet refuse the most basic of rights, like medical treatment and food for the belly, to those they deem unworthy of receiving. It’s especially sickening when these are the very same people Christ deemed worthy of the goods and commanded to provide.

But what I see in Obama’s platform and policies is a return to caring for the least of these – a return to treating the least as the greatest and issuing value based on humanity rather than wealth – as Christ commanded. I see a Leader who could, potentially, turn our Nation’s attention and provision to global atrocities, an ever-growing sex trade, and genocide being perpetrated the world over, rather than allow us who have the money and power to help to sit idly by. I see a Leader who is respected by Foreign Leaders and Dignitaries and can, potentially, dig us out of our international grave. I finally see hope for an end to these wars which have cost us so dearly in soldier lives.

More importantly, I see a Nation of people – and the Church, more significantly – learning to give selflessly for the sake of another, without passing judgement. I see all people of all backgrounds and all economic statuses finally being treated (and cared for) as equal human beings, created by God for His spectacular glory. It has been the Church’s duty thus far, and we have failed so miserably! Perhaps now, whether out of anger to a new kind of government or out of simple necessity, the Church will finally do what has been ours to do all along, so our government doesn’t have to!

I have great hope both in our Nation and in the Church. And while I’m not holding my breath for the Nation, I would for the Church.

But only if the Church actually starts *acting* (read: loving and serving) like the real, Christ-ordained Church instead of like selfish, petulant American children who don’t want to share what God has graciously provided.

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17 Comments so far
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Word to that, sister. Hilarious that you and I would end up agreeing on so much, so many years after OHCC. (We never did get along that well back then, probably my fault!) For the first time in eight years, I actually feel positive about my country. I’ve actually shed tears (not in front of people! Come on, I’m still cool!) and hugged people over an election. I have actually prayed for our leader, something (and I know this is to my detriment) I’ve never done. When I voted yesterday, I made sure to take a minute in the booth and let the image burn into my brain, knowing that I was involved in making history. I’ll never forget it. I haven’t been this excited about a leader EVER.

Anyway, (as Sam Elliott said in the Big Lebowski) I’m rambling. Keep fighting the good fight! I know it seems like we’re in the minority among our fellow believers, but don’t lose heart. We’ll get there.

Horky

Comment by Ryan Horky

Well, since you moved the discussion to here, I suppose now I feel obliged to move this response to here as well. 🙂

Jesus preceded Marx historically by nearly 19 whole centuries. In addition, Marx built his entire socialist philosophy on the initial premise that God was merely a human delusion, and the second that religion was nothing more than an “opiate of the masses.” Therefore, any attempt to make Jesus a socialist begins with many contradictions. In the … Read MoreChristian meaning of “the poor” there are a whole host of ways to be poor. And according to the Christian faith the worst form of poverty is not material; it is spiritual. One can be rolling in money and material goods, but be spiritually impoverished. One can be materially poor as dirt, but spiritually rich. Jesus did make many statements about the virtues of being generous with one’s own material wealth, whether it be great or small. However, the innate crux of every one of Jesus’ admonitions to give to those less fortunate was freedom. Unless the deed was done freely, according to the giver’s own free will, there was no blessing in the deed at all.

Comment by steverupp

Indeed, Jesus PRECEDED Marx…meaning that, whether or not Marx agreed with Jesus or believed in God, and no matter who gave the ideal a name, his idea was certainly not new. It was Christ’s idea. It was His desire for His people. (And I won’t lie: I think the argument is pure silliness. Doesn’t make any sense. Jesus wasn’t a Marxist…but His ideals reflect what later came to be called “Socialism”.)

You are right that spiritual poverty is a much more desperate issue than physical. And indeed, that’s where the Church alone has something to offer. If not before, the meeting of spiritual hunger is where the Church sets itself apart from any government or nation.

However, Christ was very clear in His teaching and His example that, no matter how it happens, the hungry, naked, imprisoned, and impoverished must be met with charity, food, clothing. The feeding of the multitude is a perfect example: Jesus fed the people physically and spiritually. How dare we relieve ourselves of half the responsibility and still call ourselves true Followers of Christ?

So, while I understand your point that physical/financial wealth and spiritual poverty can live in the same house, that doesn’t by any means negate the command read over 2,000 times throughout Scripture to feed the hungry and care for the impoverished. No other message is so prominent in Scripture. And, might I add, no other message was more passionately expressed in and through the daily life of Christ. He continually and unconditionally (i.e. without interrogating the hungry as to whether or not they were actively seeking work to pay for food) met the needs of the people who came to Him. He fed the hungry, both physically and spiritually. He clothed the naked. He healed the sick. He saw – or at least spoke of – no distinction between the poor and the lazy. Rather, by His actions He made clear that meeting physical and spiritual needs go hand in hand, where Christians are concerned. The early Church moved His work further by healing the sick, feeding the poor, and sharing all things equally.

Finally, I disagree whole-heartedly that the care of the impoverished was merely a choice left to the discernment of individuals, as if Christ intended it to be optional. Rather, it was a command. Indeed, if we are true Believers it WILL be from a grateful and charitable heart that we give. But, simply put, that’s not for you or I to judge. Nor is it an excuse not to give and provide. We are commanded to feed the hungry. It is not optional. It is, in fact, such a priority to Christ that He declared our response to need the very basis on which He will we will be separated as sheep and goats.

Comment by amycourts

i think the statement in your blog that strikes me the most is that you see a Leader who can potentially “dig us out of our international grave”…

after watching the national news this morning (so glad i took the morning off!), i can see that this is already happening. a woman from england was quoted as saying that HERE is a man who can help reclaim America’s place in the world. kenyans are elated. children from the school in thailand (?) where obama attended for a few years are beside themselves. PAKISTANI MEN ARE OVERJOYED. our military feels secure in the outcome.

what more could we ask for?

oh, i know.

that those of us that claim to be Christians START ACTING LIKE IT.

Comment by micah d.l.

It is fascinating how such a blatant command could have been “missed” for so long by those who scream they are Christians. Are we ever going to get it?!!! Amy, I have to say I am really proud of you for using your voice so eloquently for God. Doing what God has called us to do is so simple and yet most evangelicals ignore the fact that taking care of each other is indeed something Jesus was VERY clear about. There is NO grey area when it comes to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself”.

My only comment about the election is this. We are all apart of a HUGE history defining moment. We ALL have a lot of work to do, a lot of change to make happen, and a decision to come together. If electing Obama makes you feel you can sit back and justify your hatred then you will have no impact in the future of your country or faith in God. If sitting back and gloating in our new “savior” is your approach then you are no better. The point is that we as individuals have to get up and MAKE a difference in the lives of our neighbors around us. Hanging your hopes in one man or blaming one man for the mistakes we have made for so long is pure sin and laziness. Lets us all pray for each other that we will strive to change our hearts, minds, and actions!

OK done ranting….thanks for living what you preach

Comment by Jennifer Stubblefield

Amen, Jennifer! Now is not the time to kick back and relax or kick and scream. It’s a time to pursue change with a Leader who wants it as much as the people do. It’s not his job to make the change happen; it’s our job. He simply represents us as a whole.

Let’s hang our hopes in One Man only – Jesus. And act on His commands.

Comment by amycourts

jesus preceded marx??! 🙂

Comment by leanna jackson

Sharing with others what we have, giving, caring, and loving is what Christ designed and wants us to do… BUT:

2nd Corinthians 8:8-9… I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love… For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…

How does it reflect what’s on our hearts when we’re being forced to do it? Sure, it will improve the image of the United States but God doesn’t care about the image of the USA, he cares about our individual hearts and what’s inside them. There’s not as much value in being forced to do something… it should come from our hearts.

I see your point that it needs to be done, and to the people who receive the benefits it won’t matter if it comes from the heart or the government, but the worst way to change a person’s heart is force. It just won’t happen.

Also, Obama talks about spreading the wealth around… different taxing rates and more rebate checks. It’s not like the poor in this country are all of a sudden going to be much more wealthy and have a roof over their heads just because Obama won the race. A thousand-dollar rebate check isn’t enough to do that. I’m sorry, Obama isn’t going to solve this “help the poor” dilemma himself, but people sure keep talking like he is. It’s up to us followers of Jesus Christ to do it.

Comment by Bobby B

I have posted some responding thoughts here

Comment by Brett

LOL steverupp totally missed the point of the “socialism” example.

Way to go, Amy, even though all of this could be classified as you buying into the lie (not trying to make fun, just knowing that people say this about logical and lucid statements they disagree with).

YOU are fundamentally right.

Comment by Todd Newton

Hmmm…rather than respond to everyone individually (though I know you want me to, but it’ll take WAY too much space…and Brett, I can’t log on to Grace & Knowledge…it’s making me nuts), I’ll try to respond to everyone, concisely.

The point I think that’s being missed or ignored in favor of semantics is that there is no other command given more often or with more passion in Scripture than the mandate to Believers to care for the orphan and the widow. These people are of greatest import to God, as they are the most vulnerable to harm, danger, and alienation. They are the least. And while I agree that it’s the Church’s responsibility and that we ought to be serving and loving them out of a heart of gratefulness to God, and that service ought not be mandated or forced by Church leaders (or in a democratic society), the poor are still among us and always will be, and they MUST be taken care of. And if the Church is not caring for them the way God commanded us to, then we’re not only failing, the poor are being ignored. That cannot happen. So I appreciate and fully support a system in which those people ARE taken care of, whether by my taxes or by the church. Frankly, I don’t care if you’ve worked hard to earn you money and feel you deserve to hoard it. God doesn’t. And perhaps it’s time we’re shaken from our selfishness.

It should also be noted that, as is so often the case in the Christian/spiritual life, “feelings” follow action. Meaning, once we start to give of ourselves out of OBEDIENCE (and this is a matter of obedience) we begin to want to give out of selflessness.

I can’t say whether or not God cares about any Nation’s image in the world, but that’s not the point of this blog. The point is that I finally feel like we’ve elected a Leader who will actually lead us in a direction that reflects the heart of God for the poor, impoverished, and needy (whether or not that elected Leader is a true Believer).

Comment by amycourts

Ok, try it now, I changed the comment rules. Finding the balance legit comments and spam is always tricky.
Jesus Instituted Socialism?
I still need to comment on:
Abortion
Care for the widows
The notion of rights…This could get long!

Comment by Brett

Ok, quickly, let me challenge the oft repeated claim that the command to feed the hungry and care for the impoverished occurs “over 2,000 times throughout Scripture….No other message is so prominent in Scripture.
As I look at the imperatives found in the NT there are only 4 to do with the poor 5 on the widows (of these 4 are commands that that the church not care for all widows) 2 about feeding the hungry (one of which commands the hungry to feed himself). Undoubtedly there will be more in the OT because of the laws for the theocracy (which were given twice). I haven’t the ability to search OT imperatives (except by counting) so I was wondering if you could substantiate your own claim?

Comment by Brett

[…] from my previous blog: What we see happening in Acts 2 is exactly that: socialism, if not communism, even. The equal […]

Pingback by Was Jesus a Socialist: The Discussion Continues… « amy courts: en route

Brett, I’m working on that list. 🙂 I should however amend the statement to say that no other topic is mentioned more often (though not in commandment form) throughout Scripture.

Indeed, I do believe the Acts 2 church is a picture of socialism. And I believe their Way was as close to what Christ would have wanted, if not exactly.

Comment by amycourts

It’s fascinating to me that we voted for two different candidates, but we came to our decisions based on the same mandate in Scripture: take care of the poor. I can’t say that is how all pro-McCain voters arrived at their decision, but it’s how I arrived at mine.

I completely agree that the Acts 2 church is a perfect picture of socialism. The Church should be operating with a socialist agenda. We should be “spreading the wealth” as the Church. Anyone who has ever suffered, has ever known the pain of ends that just don’t meet, has ever been on the unfortunate end of unfortunate circumstances knows: you don’t just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Here’s where we (very lovingly and gently) differ:

A socialist government takes my money and decides how to spread it around, without making itself directly accountable to the Holy Spirit. So money may be designated for say, an abortion clinic, instead of the school for single parents that’s across the street, where I would like to send my money as the Lord leads. Taking care of the poor is the Church’s responsibility, not the government’s.

But the Church sucks at taking care of its poor. It’s the truth. So why leave it up to the Church? The popular solution: Mandate it through a socialist government.

I have a problem with this because it hinders me, a Christian who hurts for the forgotten and wants to give, from giving out of my freedom. (Note that it hinders me but cannot altogether prevent me from giving of my blessings.)

I believe that those who neglect a child, hoard their riches, are stingy with their blessings will get theirs. And the wrath of God is a far better vengeance than a socialist government could ever dole out.

Regardless, Obama was elected and God’s will was done. He calls me to “be subject to the governing authorities” so I’ll support him as president of the United States. And I will keep giving out of my own blessings and free will. Against this there is no law! As you concluded, our ultimate answer is to our Creator.

I love the line: “And while I’m not holding my breath for the Nation, I would for the Church.” I am hopeful as well!

On a different note, I do believe that whether either candidate had been elected, our country is in for a big change. I feel it in the very depths of my heart. I think I will raise my children in a vastly different world than I knew as a child. I think the Holy Spirit is moving within the Church- convicting hearts, shifting frame of mind, preparing the way for something. Maybe persecution. Maybe punishment for our selfishness. Maybe the very end of times. Can’t know. But I am hopeful! Our God is good! Thanks for your thoughts.

Comment by pearlmusic

Pearl: I don’t really have much of a response to your reasons for voting as you did, except that I (really) am grateful that you outlined your thought process. I find it fascinating how – in our Christian liberty – we are able to start at the same place with the same concern, yet come to such a different conclusion. I think that’s truly the beauty of authentic, exercised liberty.

And in the end, neither Obama nor McCain would save our country or the world, or do anything for the spiritual depravity of our nation. On the Church can do that, and no matter where we stand politically, we stand together on that.

Comment by amycourts




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