I'm not a fan of either of these.
I probably should qualify that, but I am weary. And I have a feeling I am not alone.
These are the topics that we joke shouldn't be discussed at a family gathering, and for the sake of all, this is a good point.
However, if one is connected to a news source (or a fake news source) or a news feed, or in everyday conversations, it seems that we are fed daily doses of both.
Much of the conversation is partisan... and there is this constant draw to "take sides"... and even those in the Christian community are deeply divided and this saddens me.
I've been pondering these things often these last weeks, and this came to me... that God does not need our protection or our defense.
This is nothing new, of course, but I believe there is this urge for self-preservation, and to protect what we believe, what we hold dear. Sometimes those beliefs are grounded more in tradition and in the values we hold on to.
I am convinced that when we take sides we dull the real message that Christ proclaimed, which was to love one another. Christ broke down barriers, he spent time with the disadvantaged, and he questioned the "religious right", who wanted to make sure everyone else did it right too. They were called Pharisees in his day.
Many of us have grown up in a faith culture that is based on fear not love. I see the need to protect our own self interests, which we can begin to interpret as "God-interests", and really that is where the splintering of the church begins. No wonder so many... and I meet them every week... are turned off of institutionalized church. When I think of the glory of heaven, which we can only imagine, there will be NO denominations, no fracturing, just sweet harmony.
Before I point any fingers, I know I am guilty of the same. Trying to protect my faith, the way I practice my faith, my values, and focusing energy on defending my position.
I've been wondering what God sees in all of this... somehow I don't think God would be conservative or liberal, republican or democrat or any other label.... God looks at our hearts. How do we treat one another? Do we show respect? How do we care for the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the disadvantaged? Are we busy protecting our own self-interests rather than protecting the those who are persecuted and defenseless?
I was drawn to the word "Protection" this week, and as I've pondered it, I realize that the safest place I can be is close to God, hiding under those feathers, as the Psalmist so picturesquely describes it. I need protection from myself at times, from falling into the trap that I've found the "right way"... that my interpretations of scripture and of God are the correct ones.
God cannot be put into a box. When I think with awe about the supremacy of God, the majesty of creation, I am small indeed. God does not need my defense.
Instead we receive an invitation... to follow Christ, to enter into the rhythms of grace and forgiveness and love. I am again inspired to change my focus.
In the weeks to come, I hope to spend some time on the journey of lent... not so much a giving up, but a fresh entering into a spiritual life that enters into the life of Christ.