if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
In many respects, I have been “over” this presidential election since the middle of the summer, back when I realized we would see very little substantive conversation regarding some of the real challenges we’re facing vis-à-vis social justice, healthcare, jobs, national security, and the emerging global economy.
While a lot of general criticism focuses (rightly) on the candidates themselves, I find myself even more troubled not only by the two major political parties, but also by the willingness of so many of the electorate – that’s us! – to be distracted by the antics of those occupying the fringes.
We are a nation historically defined by our plurality, our diversity, our respect for those we disagree with, and the ability of regular people to stake out vastly different positions, yet get something constructive done anyway.
“Raging Moderate” story:
I’m reminded of a story I may well have shared before – but if I can’t remember when, then likely you don’t either! Regardless, it’s a good one.
The occasion was a meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). My wife, Rebekah, was there as a commissioner. She weighed in during one debate and – over the course of the next few minutes – was dismissed out of hand as, “an extreme conservative” in one rebuttal, and pigeonholed in another comment as, “a radical liberal.”
Rebekah made her way back to the mic, and her response made the daily bulletin of the Presbyterian News Service. “Over the past few minutes I’ve been dismissively tagged as both a conservative and a liberal,” she said. “I believe that illustrates the absurdity of labels. Labels are dismissive, they are prejudicial, they separate us from one another, and more importantly they get in the way of God’s initiatives of grace and reconciliation. If you need to call me anything at all, then call me a raging moderate! Call me a child of God.”
“Labels are dismissive, they are prejudicial, they separate us from one another, and more importantly they get in the way of God’s initiatives of grace and reconciliation. If you need to call me anything at all, then call me a raging moderate! Call me a child of God.” – Rebekah Maul
In that same meeting, she called the body to prayer, causing one minister to stand up and say – I kid you not, – “Generally, I believe that prayer is highly overrated.”
I’m sharing this with my readers today, because I believe it’s time for the majority of Americans to begin making some noise as a “we’ve had it up to here” group of Raging Moderates. That, and a more intentional commitment to prayer. And by prayer I mean the kind of prayer that opens our hearts and minds for God to change us.
Not just, “God I pray you will fix this broken political system,” or, “God please make so-and-so a better person,” – but, “God I commit myself to a more complete relationship with you, and to pray that you enter my heart and change me; change my heart, change my mind, change my response to this world, heal my relationships, make me a more effective witness to love and grace.”
“God I commit myself to a more complete relationship with you, and to pray that you enter my heart and change me; change my heart, change my mind, change my response to this world, heal my relationships, make me a more effective witness to love and grace.”
It’s not middle ground we need, but new ground. The ground that Jesus lived, served, and died to prepare for us. We need to invest ourselves in a groundswell movement of grace, of listening, of compassion, of reconciliation, of faith, and of promise.
If we as God’s people – known as followers of the Living Way – will only humble ourselves, and get on our knees, and seek God’s face, and turn away from our own divisive agendas, and learn to trust…, then God will lead us forward into something new and beautiful: healed hearts, healed relationships, and a healed land too. (author paraphrase, 2 Chronicles 7:14)