If one’s sense of morality is not being tested at this particular point in history while living in this United States, then that one is not paying attention. On a far grander scale than ever before, those who organize their lives around Jesus Christ, are regularly and starkly presented with large-scale moral dilemmas. The clear and present divisions in this country, combined with the outing of so many powerful people for sexual harassment, along with a president who is willing to exploit the issues churning in the public square to advance his cause or himself…all of this is confronting Christ-following people with major kunundrums rarely experienced on such a large, public scale.
In this kind of context, identifying the questions before us can help. Certainly the way we frame the questions influences the answers, revealing clues about the perspective of the one doing the asking. Yet, that doesn’t negate the need to clarify what’s before us. Here are some of the more glaring questions confronting us right here, right now:
- How willing are we to tolerate moral failure in leaders in order to gain political power?
- How much do we believe the ends (one’s political party being elected) justify the means (exploiting fears and electing dubious characters)?
- Is there a political party with Christian values? Anymore? Ever? Or has it always been about political power?
- Does integrity matter in leadership? Or does expediency trump integrity?
- What does the gospel (good news) mean in this context?
- Are our churches able to help us navigate these waters; help us collectively struggle with these important issues? Or is the fear and suspicion too pervasive even in church communities to be much actual help to each other?
- Is there good news in the gospel which transcends one’s political affiliation? Is there good news which endures when one’s country appears to be deconstructing before one’s eyes?
- How sustaining is one’s faith when that religion appears to only be an extension of a political party?
- How does it affect our participation when our religion moves from majority to minority status in our country and communities?
- What does it look like to be a Christ-follower, people who organize their lives around the Way of Jesus, in THIS America?
- What’s it look like to be salt and light in this crazy American context?
- When the categories which held for decades (like liberal and conservative) disintegrate, no longer resembling what they were, where to from here? Are categories even helpful at all anymore?
I could go on.
You get the idea.
I believe these are the kinds of questions which come to a people when their culture, political system, and cognitive schemas for understanding their world deform and deconstruct. I don’t believe America will return to its previous state or condition; too much has come to light and broken apart. I do believe many saw this coming; observing major large-scale shifts rising for years.
Given this, one thing I do know. The answers we gave to the questions before this postmodern shift in America arose no longer suffice. Since the former ways of being in the world are going the way of all things, the answers which informed and guided us then are also growing irrelevant.
That’s where hope lives. I believe the gospel is good news for all people in all places AT ALL TIMES. I believe this is the perfect time for the good news of Jesus Christ to guide us in the present. I’m eager to see how the robust, life-giving, good news of this gospel will transform those who will into vibrant examples of human beings, even in a context of deconstruction. May it become so right here, right now.