“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:13-16)
“If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/movingwords/shortlist/gandhi.shtml, accessed 9/21/20)
The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has sounded a dinner bell for those ready to devour their enemies. This event is one among many in 2020 that leaves multitudes in our nation licking their chops like Wile E. Coyote when he sees the Roadrunner. Only two Republican Senators so far have said they will vote against a hearing for a new justice. Meanwhile, some Democratic lawmakers are already promising retaliation should Republicans do so and should Democrats have the power to retaliate. (https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/sep/20/lisa-murkowski-republican-supreme-court-mcconnell-trump-ruth-bader-ginsburg ; https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/19/ruth-bader-ginsburg-democrats-fight-trump-supreme-court, both accessed 9/21/20)
The partisan arms race has been in overdrive. Each side seeks to weaponize every headline, every tweet, every interview, every Instagram post, and every Facebook page shared. The call to arms is unceasing in this digital, 24-hour world in which we live. This stockpiling of weapons has a very predictable, if very frightening outcome: mutually assured destruction (MAD). Wishing we could return to some romanticized period when “people could actually work together,” might be more nostalgia than reality, and it does not really help us confront the here and now of a toxic morass whose existence and perpetuation we all take part in regularly.
This morning, there was a gentleman at the corner of Germantown Parkway and Wolf River Boulevard holding a sign that read, “No matter who’s President, Jesus is still King.” To that list of “No matter who’s __________,” we could add “Supreme Court Justice, Speaker of House, Senate Majority Leader,” and many more. Many of us seem to be falling into the temptation to power that Christianity fell into when it merged with the Roman Empire in the mid-300s AD. As tantalizing as it is to wield power and to tell others what is “right” because we said so, the way of Jesus demands a much harder, yet more life-giving approach to everything.
God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.
– Richard Rohr (https://email.cac.org/t/ViewEmail/d/13BBF5B2B60C4C702540EF23F30FEDED/11D940626BF17ACC7F4E5A579FEBB2E9, accessed 9/22/20)
The devastation we are leveling against one another only benefits the crows who can gorge on what remains. Jesus offers a better, albeit more difficult road. As the Apostle Paul would recognize, there is only so much flesh to go around, but the Spirit is inexhaustible. Let us live our lives according to the Spirit.