When Jesus announced the introduction of His public ministry in Luke 4:18 He says,
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind….”
Though this proclamation is often interpreted literally as healing of physical blindness, I believe it’s also meant to reflect the ability to “see” and “interpret” the times it which we live. The euphemism that we often hear, “turning a blind eye” indicates that things are transpiring that we don’t want to see, recognize or acknowledge. We don’t want to get involved or we don’t want to consider the implications of what a particular action might be.
I would submit to you that the current circumstances in our nation would require every serious Christ follower to ask of the Lord to open their eyes to see what is really going on and their ears to hear what is really being said, not for just their own well being, but for the very future of this great nation.
One of the difficulties of raising this topic is that it is very easily cast into political commentary rather than a fundamentally spiritual issue and that is a mistake. Although there are enormous political dynamics that are taking place within our nation that exacerbate our current conversations, the true issue of what’s happening is a fundamental divide in the spiritual foundation upon which our nation was established by the early settlers and founding fathers.
If you think things are unsettled and even worse, increasingly divided in America, you are not overreacting. As historian and theologian Os Guinness writes in his book, “Last Call for Liberty”,
“The United States is facing a heaving sea of problems at home: hollowed-out beliefs and weakened ethics; declining trust in institutions and leaders; self-enriching elites; cancerous racism; paved-for-play and dirt bag politics; politicized criminal justice; crony capitalism; blinkered higher education; collapsed civic education; biased main stream press; journalistic collusion with political interest; politicized corporations; decaying infrastructures; crippling national debt; a surveillance state spying on it’s own citizens; porous borders; a demographic time bomb; failing inner-cities that are the equivalent of states elsewhere; fracturous cultural warring; a toxic madness of gossip, supposition, cynicism, and conspiracy theories; … and now a deadly attempt by both left and right to undermine each other’s legitimacy as American and democratic.”
Any honest evaluation of our current situation in America would acknowledge that most of these are true, if not all of them, and that they are more pervasively wide-spread and less debated than ever before. Guiness’s conclusion is clear that “American society is more divided – politically, economically, racially, ideologically, culturally, and religiously – than at any time since it’s house was divided and nearly fell in the Civil War. “
Perhaps it’s been a consequence of the imposed “shelter at home” orders that the covid-19 pandemic has imposed upon millions of us over the last 10+ weeks that have cleared some time and bandwidth in our thinking to consider such things, or perhaps it’s been the inability of the nation to even rally around our common and core values in the face of the pandemic and revert, once again, to partisan politics rather than public interest that has caused many of us to seriously question “What is going on?”
For those who would make this divide all about President Donald Trump, let me submit to you that he is not the cause of what is happening in our nation’s collective psyche. Rather, he is the effect of what was already nearing a boiling point four years ago prior to the 2016 election. Mr. Trump is not the cause nor is he the answer to the nation’s problems. Rather, I would submit that it’s a much deeper issue that has to do with the spiritual and individual actions of the 330 million of us who are called American citizens.
Whether we fully understand it or not, we have been blessed with a form of government of our citizens that has only been seen a handful of times in the history of the world. It is called a covenantal society, that is, societies that are linked by choice and binding agreement rather than legal contracts, force-able hierarchical authority or simple organic, ancestral blood relationships.
There is so much to say about the power and brilliance of a covenantal society that it will need to be pursued at another time, but let it be said that this is the only form of government that gives it’s citizens the free choice to determine who will be given the authority to lead them based on their individual vote of support and sustained by a profoundly moral and not power based authority structure.
There is a reason why free societies in the course of world history have rarely lasted more than a couple hundred years. The ability to pass on these values from one generation to the next requires a profound level of commitment to reaffirm those initial values while continuing to address the inequalities or inadequacies of how such covenants are being lived out (such as seen in the recent morally unacceptable and racially incendiary incident in Minneapolis) while continuing to hold firmly to the fact that government is not supreme, but individuals are in a covenantal society.
As we approach our primary elections next Tuesday, let’s agree to pray together for wisdom from above to cast our votes for those who we believe understand the essence of these covenantal values that find their foundational expression all the way back in God’s first covenant with the Jews following the exodus 3000 years ago. It’s no mistake that the greatest civilization in world history has emerged out of those fundamental principles.
Praying that our eyes will be open,