It is amazing how many people own the truth! Also, how many trying to convince everyone else that they are wrong. Religious people often have a tendency to believe that they are of the elect, and those who disagree with them, well, are not, and are dammed.
In fact, if you are a Christian and belong to a denomination, or to an independent church, or just pray and worship at home, I can wager that in some Christian’s eyes, you are not of the elect, and are dammed.
Yes, it is wearisome.
It is the same in politics. While I believe that the vast majority of people do not identify with the extreme left or right, there is a large minority that does. They also damn each other along secular lines, which can be worse than being dammed by believers, at least in the United States, and Europe. Being canceled today in the ‘woke’ community is mercilessly allowing for no reconciliation.
I am not absenting myself from this human weakness and at times, evil. Living in a past society where church and state are one, while that arrangement can be troublesome, can also make it easier to live out one’s faith in peace since it is obvious to everyone who practices their faith what is true and right. The same goes for political beliefs, as long as no outside information or opinion is allowed. Today that is impossible for the most part.
The Scriptures can help, but more often than not they can be troublesome since I believe we pick and choose what we quote and focus on — mostly that which agrees with us in our preconceived beliefs.
Even the word ‘God’ can be problematic, loaded, and divisive. I do believe in ‘God’, in the revelation of Jesus Christ, but I have trouble when someone comes across saying that they ‘know,’ and have the authority to judge and, yes, damn to outer darkness just about everyone.
When St. Paul talked about ‘Party Spirit,’ it was not something good but detrimental to the community. So believers and political pundits often get absorbed into this ‘Party Spirit’ which can lead to violence and even death. The war in Ukraine can be called an extreme manifestation of that reality.
“Paul lists the “fruit” (or offspring) of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. And while many of the behaviors listed in these verses are sexual sins (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness), most of the behaviors listed are those that come from a sense of moral and religious superiority over others, such as hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders.
Today, because of our ability to communicate instantly with so many on the internet, allows for contention to spread to thousands, even millions. In the past, while it caused harm, and serious problems, today it is magnified a hundredfold.
There is no way out of this quagmire, and it may lead to the ending of society as we know it and some actual destruction as well. Too pessimistic? I wish it were. It is believed that we are guided by logic and rational thought. I see no proof of that, I see a world caught up in a whirlwind of emotions, and reactions, with just a touch of rational thought and logic to slow down our downward spiral to further chaos.
We are however speeding towards a crash landing.
The best aspects of religion and politics can give us some light on this matter, but it is seldom followed, I believe that we are too short-sighted for that.
When we do not love, listen, or respect others, we sin. Whatever is not of love is sin. Whatever leads to chaos, pain, and destruction is sin. Sin is short-sighted, wants a quick fix, and does not listen to others. I believe that we are all infected by this, I have met no exceptions.
Those who know this, perhaps fight against it, and with grace progress is made. Those who do not, cannot face what is inside their souls, and cannot seek healing, redemption, responsibility, and most importantly, mercy and forgiveness. Mercy can only come with confession and self-knowledge. Without that, we are caught in an eternal wheel of pain, violence, and death.
People can’t afford an apartment even when they have jobs. People have jobs but live in their cars. Yet, in certain areas, they want to outlaw people from doing that. Yes, we do have a long way to go to live out what we proclaim we believe.
When faith becomes an ideology, it is doomed. Faith is open to the work of God in the world, and the humility to admit we do not have all the answers. Yet we are called to serve, love, and, yes, to pray, and speak the truth in gentleness, respect, and love as the Scriptures counsel us to do (Ephesians 4:15). Ideologies are closed systems, and in the end they will die, but they may take us with them.
Lord, teach us to seek mercy and to give it.