“My friends say there will be a civil war after the election.” My youngest son, visiting from college, looks up from his fish taco to make his comment. His big brother and wife are here from Colorado, and we’ve gathered around Grammy’s dining room table on a Friday evening. Jimmy says this thing about a war matter-of-factly, but I’m watching his face, and I know. He’s worried. All weekend I sense his heavy heart, and I ask, more than once. Are you good? You look sad. It’s hard to know how much to pry when a kid is twenty.
Two days later it’s two of us, eating Chipotle. Jimmy talking about a future with Sidney, finishing college, getting a job. And I wonder. The boy spent his first fourteen years in a country where unrest was normal. Maybe he thought America would be the dream. Or maybe not.
Also this weekend, I get texts from Nils, first year post-college. My third-born son plays music at a church, leading students in worship. Nils talks about division, even between Christians. He says all he wants to do is follow Jesus.
Me, too, son. Me, too.
People are worried, and maybe for good reason. Nils shared a podcast in one of his texts, and I agreed with its message. These are sobering times, but not novel. History repeats, and no matter how unprecedented a year might seem, there is really nothing new under the sun.
A few weeks back I stopped by the other grandparents’ house to meet up with my oldest son and his family—here from Iowa. We buckled kids in carseats, gathering diapers and masks, heading to Panera for a patio lunch. A comment was made about “regaining freedoms” and without even thinking, I answered back. "It is for freedom Christ has set me free."
Because isn’t this the truest truth? A child of God can die a martyr and still live free.
But my kids are nervous, and no wonder. Just this morning my husband scheduled his hip replacement for November 2nd. Voting Day. We registered absentee, but he’s staying the night, and what in the world will the world be like when I’m bringing him home the day after?
Our allegiance is not to an earthly kingdom. Our hope is not in a political party. The leader we follow died for the WORLD.
So much talk about making a nation great, and I wonder if maybe we’ve lost sight of a greater vision?
Your kingdom come…on earth as is heaven.
“These days of upheaval might be just what we’ve needed.” The first time I said this was last spring, when churches were closing. Reminding my family—the Church, capital “C”—was never a building. The kingdom of Jesus isn’t limited to a location—or a nation. This Ecclesia-Church was only, ever, meant to be a gathering-movement. Hasn’t Pastor Mike, there in Iowa, reminded us of this a thousand times?
The first followers of Jesus were surprised by how a lot of things turned out. They were surprised their Messiah was not a military leader. They were surprised by the diversity of their teacher’s friends and disciples. They were surprised when the one they’d put their hope in was dying. And more surprised yet when he came back to life.
I believe in surprises.
At church (small “c”) we sing songs about freedom; we're no longer slaves, and death is defeated. These same songs, or others like them, are sung the world over by followers of Jesus whose politics and economic situations would make us shudder. And yet. These brothers and sisters of mine, of ours, raise hands in allegiance to a Kingdom they can count on. A Kingdom we share.
Which is why, most days, I don’t worry. In fact, I have a hunch this upheaval just might shake things up enough to rid us of our false hopes and our weak freedoms, and remind us of our true identity and our truest mission, which is to love God, and love people, the world over.
For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (Emphasis mine.)