In just a little over two weeks since the inauguration of President Joe Biden and his new administration, it is increasingly clear that the divide in our nation is not on the way to “unity and healing” that he proposed. In fact I dare say that our American republic is suffering it’s gravest crisis since the Civil War. We seem to be moving into a season where it is no longer ‘politics as usual’, but an era of political warfare where our enemies are not foreign adversaries, but are fellow citizens.
This is not an overstatement and is symbolized most clearly by the installation of high strength fencing and razor wire along with somewhere between 5000-10000 National Guard troops surrounding our nation’s capital. In what might have seemed like the cartoon parody even a decade ago, is now a daily reminder of just how divided we have become.
Although my primary focus in this space is to remind us of the sovereignty of God and the focus of our spiritual center, it is not a time to be ignorant of the forces that are at work to further divide and perhaps eventually destroy our country, which so many of us still believe God has plans and purpose for this great nation. The fact that there remains a substantial base of tens of millions of committed followers of Christ in this country cannot be dismissed or overlooked by the disregard or even obvious disinterest in our spiritual heritage in most forms of media, education and now even in government.
Just one year ago in contemplating the 2020 elections I recognized that some of the values that we hold most dear and quote most often in America such as freedom of expression, of thought, worship and gathering seem to be slowly slipping out of our national consciousness, along came the Covid-19 pandemic which did nothing but to further isolate and polarize us as a nation at a time when it seems it could get no worse. Now, one year later, we’ve all discovered that it did get much worse and that the long term consequences of this past year are just beginning to be understood, let alone addressed.
What we seem to be losing almost as if it’s the consequence of some sort of collective purging of our minds and souls is our individuality and what it means to be a nation of individual freedoms though diverse, can still function as one. Thus the phrase on much of our currency “e pluribus unum.”
Instead it seems that we are increasingly being classified by identity politics and viewed, polled, analyzed and lumped together as members of groups with no personal differentiation rather than as individuals.
This sort of post-modern relativism is added to the mix of groupings which gives rise to different truths for different tribes: feminist truths, homosexual truths, black truths, Hispanic truths, millennial truths, Left and Right truths, media truths, and on and on we go.
It seems that each group sees the world in it’s own way, so much so that even family members who have known each other for decades, now find it difficult to talk about what’s happening in our nation with any sense of civility or concern about our relationships to one another.
When we fail to be able to communicate with people with whom we have an established bond of love and commitment or at least a relational connection that has endured for years if not decades, our individual perspective becomes more important than our collective identity and we eventually cease to be “one nation, under God.”
If one studies Western history, it’s plain that tribalism, sectarianism, and suspicion are common responses to the apparent failure of politics to guide public life.
Here is a current push to rethink once again our immigration policies which will only contribute to the further disintegration of our American identity. If we value unity as a nation then we need to welcome our immigrants into our borders and expect them to embrace and integrate into our American ideals rather than taking their own cultures and going their own way with little or no understanding of how they can relate to their new country and to each other.
It seems that the heart of true liberalism is an eye for the identity and freedom of each individual person and the content of their character, regardless of their membership in any group or tribe. However, all of this is still possible while embracing the values of freedom and liberty as brilliantly articulated in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
If nothing else, my encouragement to all who may be thinking about these matters is to pray fervently for our leaders and those in authority as commanded by God’s Word in Romans 13. We are also in need of being reminded that our greatest strength as believers in Christ is our ability to “love our enemies” which is often times much easier to say than it is to do. However, we are not given an option to do anything else.
May the Lord grant us grace, revelation and strength as we continue to take a stand and seek to bring healing and unity to our land.