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The eyes have it...


Practical James wrote about the dynamic tension between the mouth and the ears. His epistle includes a jewel for people quick with words---"Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19,ESV). There's also a link between the mouth and the eyes. The Apostle Paul wrote about it in the second letter to the church at Corinth. It's simple. He wrote---"Look at what is before your eyes" (2 Corinthians 10:7, ESV). They were questioning his credentials. He wanted them to stop all the rhetoric and observe what was happening in front of them. This seems appropriate right now.

Perhaps It was more comic relief than anything else, but one of the talking heads the other night dared one of the others to describe what happened on election night in one hundred million words or less. Of all the arm-chair analysis two conclusions about election 2016 are most obvious: everybody and her brother had an opinion about what was happening or was going to happen; and, hardly any body actually saw what was taking place right in front of us. The juke and jive of the mainstream media elite as vote totals were tabulated and reported may have been the most entertaining live television any of us have ever seen. Even the brightest political wonks were dumb-founded by the results. No one dared believe that President-Elect Trump could amass such an electoral college victory. All of that aside, the real take-away is the startling dis-connect between the media, political professionals, and "we the people". The thing about looking at what is before your eyes may be the lesson of the year, or decade.

The old accountant in me enjoys some time in statistical research on occasion. This has especially been true as a churchman with a mission to influence the world. Keeping abreast of rapidly shifting demographics is a challenge to church leaders already on a treadmill of mission objectives and congregational life. Still, the deep divisions so evident in the American voting public and the voting demographics of this election are a point of note for all of us---those observing the political dynamics of the nation and those of us in the contemporary church. All of our wishes, preferences, and biases may have blinded us somewhat about what has been happening right before our eyes. How to pursue and then actualize our mission assignment in a world with such diverse political leanings may be our greatest challenge. This is especially true as we realize the voting choices of evangelical Christians, the Millennials, and along the racial divides that separate us so distinctly.

One line of departure seems most troubling to me. That is the line between the apparent Trump vote among the evangelical population and the #neverTrump preferences by so many denominational leaders. The #neverTrump coalition most apparent in many spiritual and denominational leaders was both vocal and at times vicious, creating a great deal of tension between them and the people in the pulpits and pews they have been selected or charged to lead. The passion exhibited, especially in the social media, by those in the #neverTrump camp created great confusion and disorientation for large segments of the voting public, most notably in the church member ranks. In the aftermath of such a divisive election, there must be some effort in restoring biblical unity in the Christian community so that our mission can be pursued with one heart and mind.

The silence that has followed the surprising results of the election may be a good entree to such unity. James was surely correct in counseling that we be quick to listen and slow to speak, and more to the point, slow to fan the flames of anger and division that the election ignited. But, at some point in the future, these same leaders must discover words and actions that intentionally introduce healing from the upper echelons of our institutional framework right down to the pulpits and pews of our smallest churches. To pray for and initiate spiritual union can restore not only our unified witness to a vastly changing world but the confidence that must mark the mission we share at every level of denominational life.

This kind of leadership need not violate the personal conscience that guides each of us to make political, voting, and life decisions. As we've said for many years ours is a big tent and the priesthood of every believer gives each of us room to be respond to our Father's guidance, leaders as well. Now, however, our nation needs spiritual leaders to step up and speak the words of Christ, "...that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21, ESV).

You see, the eyes have it, and the need now is for eyes that see. Here's praying that Jesus could say of us, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see..." (Matthew 13:16, ESV).


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