The Idolatry of Party Politics

“Uncritical acceptance of any party line is an idolatrous abdication of one’s core identity as Abba’s child. Neither liberal fairy dust nor conservative hardball addresses human dignity, which is often dressed in rags.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is Tuesday, October 7, 2014.

Today is Bathtub Day. Apparently, the bathtub was introduced in England on this date in 1828. Do whatever you wish with that information. I highly discourage reading ebooks in the bathtub, however. Real books wouldn’t fare too well, either, if dropped in the bath, but at least the pages would dry out and you could still use them.

Yesterday turned out really well at work. We got an average number of boxes in, which was rather light for recent days, and had both of our UPS carts empty by the end of the day. And that’s with three people out! So I would say it went very well.

We both have days off on Thursday and Friday, this week. Sunday, we celebrate 29 years of marriage! Thursday afternoon, we will be going to our usual cabin in Glen Rose, at Paluxy River Bed Cabins. We are so looking forward to this time of refreshing and relaxing! The weather is supposed to be nice, with Saturday’s high being in the low 80s. The nights and mornings should be really nice.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
Psalm 9:11
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;

Psalm 65:5
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:6-7
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Psalm 81:8-10
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon your church the
abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is
afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask,
except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Colossians 1:9-12
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

Today’s Gospel Reading

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.
Matthew 9:18-26

I guess I had never paid much attention to the way Matthew shortens some of these stories. Other Gospel writers add more detail, such as Jesus saying, “Who touched me?” when the woman sneaked up behind him to touch the fringe of his garment. Anyway, what is interesting to me in both of these instances is the peoples’ idea that touch is necessary for healing. Contrast with the centurion who felt he was not worthy to have Jesus come to his home. He understood that all Jesus had to do was say the word, and his servant would be healed. This father believed that Jesus would have to touch his daughter. The woman believed that she had to at least touch the garment of Jesus. But Jesus turned to her and explained that it was not her touching his garment that healed her, but her faith. Now, we understand that it was the power of God that actually healed, not her faith. But the fact that she had the faith to turn to Jesus for a solution to her problem was what initiated that power being released to her. The lesson for us today, since a physical touch from Jesus is not possible, is that all we need to is turn to him for the solution to our problems. Our faith in him will initiate the answer, through the power of God.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Party Line.”

“Homophobia and racism are among the most serious and vexing moral issues of this generation, and both church and society seem to limit us to polarized options.” I can’t wait to see where this is going!

The “left” has a morality of “anything goes,” while the “right” matches this with “sanctimonious moralism.” Now, I will quote the next two statements, in which I strongly believe Brennan nails this (as he was so good at doing). “Uncritical acceptance of any party line is an idolatrous abdication of one’s core identity as Abba’s child. Neither liberal fairy dust nor conservative hardball addresses human dignity, which is often dressed in rags.” This is not the first time that I have heard buying into a “party line” described as idolatry!

We must remember that all political and religious systems, both left and right, are “the work of human beings.” The third (and correct) option is that we be guided by God’s word and only God’s word (unfortunately, the “religious right” claims that they are guided by God’s word). “Abba’s children will not sell their birthright for any mess of pottage, conservative or liberal. They hold fast to their freedom in Christ to live the gospel – uncontaminated by cultural dreck, political flotsam, and the filigreed hypocrisies of bullying religion.” (I’m sitting here, as I read this, really wanting to say, “WHEEEE!!!”)

Brennan continues, “Those who are bent on handing gays over to the torturers can lay no claim to moral authority over Abba’s children. Jesus saw such shadowed figures as the corrupters of the essential nature of religion in his time. Such exclusive and divisive religion is a trackless place, Eden overgrown, a church in which people experience lonely spiritual alienation from their best human instincts.”

I quoted a lot of this because I couldn’t say it better. It’s a lot to chew on, but, once again, I find myself in complete agreement with Brother Manning.

And from those who seemed to be influential
(what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)
—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.

Galatians 2:6

Father, I pray for healing in your Church. I pray that your Church, especially in America, can let go of the idolatry of party politics and follow your word alone. May we shed the “sanctimonious moralism” of our time and live out of the center of your will, your grace, and your mercy. May we remember the words of Jesus when he said “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” May we remember the words of Jesus when he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” May we learn to allow the life of Christ to be the life that we live, following him, focusing on being a disciple and making new disciples. May we remember his commands to love our Father with all of our being, love our neighbors as ourselves, and love each other as he has loved us.

I pray for this day, that we might have save travel to and from work. I pray for another good day at work. I pray that you would keep Stephanie close in your care today, giving her encouragement, wisdom, and understanding. I pray for a relaxing long weekend as we celebrate our marriage. How you have blessed us, Father!

Your grace is truly sufficient!

One of my deepest prayers for this generation is that we can let go of this idolatrous political idealism and follow Christ more closely.

Grace and peace, friends.

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