Name calling. Profanity. Labeling. Pointing fingers. Hunkering down and digging in. Doubling down. Saving face.
These are all too common occurrences that describe our political environment. They are the methods of our belief that the ends justify the means, that the strong survive, and that might makes right. They are the hallmarks of empire theology — a theology that lays claim to its adherents, tells its followers lies and false promises, and demands sacrifice from them. Empire theology shows up in many different forms. For some it is through politics. But empires go beyond country borders. Empires can be religious institutions and work. They can be beliefs we have about others and the world. They can be things — like wealth, or guns, or education. Empires demand and control people.
And they tear down anyone who opposes them and throws believers under the bus when they are inconvenient.
Empire theology is just one way of living though. And it’s not even a good way of living. Empires always end the same way — death and destruction.
Instead of empire, Christians are called to kingdom theology. Or Reign of God theology to put it a better way.
Instead of tearing people and ideas down…Instead of tearing down churches and organizations…Instead of tearing down politicians and policies…Instead of tearing down groups of people…Instead of tearing down and opposing…Instead of pointing out what is wrong and who is wrong…Let us do something else.
Let’s build something.
Instead of just being opposed to the wall, or immigrants…tax cuts or universal health care…left or right…Let’s do something else.
If you oppose something, ask yourself why. Go beyond the sound bites that you hear that just feed your current belief system and stroke your ego that you are right. Instead, ask why you believe the proposed idea is not needed or why it is detrimental.
And then do something productive that shows why the thing you oppose is not needed. Do something that matters. Do something that impacts people’s lives for the better. That builds people up. That impacts people in ways that would stun those you oppose. Do something small. Do something.
If you oppose the wall, then the question is, what can you do to improve the lives of immigrants who are seeking a better life? How about just one immigrant. It doesn’t have to be a perfect solution. You can’t save the world. But you can impact the life of one person for the better and build them up.
If you oppose universal health care, then the question is, what can you do to improve the lives of those without health insurance? How about just one person who is struggling. It doesn’t have to be a perfect solution. You can’ save the world. But you can impact the life of one person for the better and build them up.
What’s the issue that gets to you? Guns? Taxes? Education? Jobs? Immigration? Abortion? Safety? Security? Freedom? What is it?
Go beyond the sound bites, the tweets, the memes. Go beyond the talking points that are thrown up on our culture. Go beyond the talking heads and the politicians. Go beyond Facebook. And think. Think deeply about the issue. Why does this issue have control over you, consume you? Why does it anger you and cause you to fear? Why does it eat at you?
And once you’re clear about that — then ask what you can and should do about it. And just start doing something. And invite others in to participate. Participating in the building up of something that will build up people rather than tear people down.
This is how things change. Not by complaining. Not by tweeting or posting memes. Not by fighting about an issue in the comment section of a Facebook post or article. Not by yelling at others who disagree. Not by waiting for some politician or celebrity to make a claim that they are doing something. But by you and I actually doing something — regardless of the critics. Moving forward anyway.
If the idea is worth anything, there will be critics. Go forward anyway. If the idea is worth anything, then there will be obstacles. Go forward anyway. If the idea is worth anything, then it will last. The money for it will come. The people will come. The idea will become a movement and movements change lives.
Complaining and blaming never changed anything. Instead, start doing. Start building. Start moving.
For me, the issue that gets to me is homelessness in our area. I’m not satisfied with just waiting for it to resolve itself, or to listen to false claims of people being lazy. I’m not satisfied with people being on wait lists for housing. I’m not satisfied with a lack of affordable housing. I’m not satisfied that people who live in motels and pay $250-$400 a week for a crappy room are trapped in a vicious cycle and can never escape. I’m not satisfied that there are individuals and families living in their cars, especially when many have jobs. I’m not satisfied that the poor and homeless are viewed as less than human. I’m not satisfied that Christians make excuses for not doing something with the poor and homeless as opposed to following what Jesus tells us to do.
I could sit and complain about it. I could post a meme or have an argument with someone on Facebook about it. Instead, I decided to do something. A bunch of somethings. Will they work? I have no idea. But I have hope. I know sitting and complaining and arguing isn’t going to change one person’s life.
What gets to you? What are you unsatisfied with? What’s your instead?
Now go and do it.
You are not alone. I’m rooting for you. I’m here to support you, to pray with you, to listen to you. Reach out to me. Let’s do “instead” together.
Originally published at laceduplutheran.com on January 8, 2019.