Politics: The Incredible Shrinking World

Jesus knows no national boundaries or national preferences. The body of Christ is an international one, and the allegiance of Christians to the church must always supersede their national identities. The words of Jesus stand as a virtual roadblock to any nation’s pretension to rationalize and sanctify the preference for war. Jesus’ instruction to be peacemakers leads either to non-violent alternatives to war or, at least a rigorous application of the church principles of just war.

~Jim Wallis, God’s Politics, p. 16

I got a call from the Republican Party last night. They were taking a poll of loyal party members and wanted my opinion.

No they didn’t. Not really. I told them that I was not a republican regardless of what their records showed. While my son was in Iraq I quit the Republican Party and registered as an independent, that is “none of the above.” They thanked me for my time and went on to the next call.

My world is shrinking. I have decided that my influence, such as it is, needs to be exerted close to home. If I get far beyond the city where I live things become murky and intangible. Opinions are spun like spider webs in popular culture. Consequently, as the psalmist says, “O Lord, my heart is not proud nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me.”

But bringing things closer to home makes them harder to ignore. It makes indifference and inaction intolerable. We can’t single-handedly bring peace to the Middle East, but what excuse do we have for not being peacemakers in our neighborhood or in our faith community?

The value of the national news is that it highlights the chaos of the human soul. As a child I remember being amazed and delighted at how enormous my shadow was. As I stepped in front of a light I appeared as a giant, though I was very small. So it is with conditions in the world. Global and national headlines are like shadows. Wars and famines, corruption and exploitation—all shadows cast by the brokenness of countless very small souls.

James the Apostle said, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

The headlines reflect the mature harvest of our brokenness. The seeds are closer to home. The headlines may be too difficult for us, but the seeds of brokenness in our neighborhood and our city are not.

Worlds are changed from the ground up.

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