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Sorry for the ridiculously long break.  I have been feeling strained in my time with the birth of Claire and then the process of preparing for and going on our short term mission to The Nehemiah House in the Philippines.  The trip was again a huge blessing and a challenge as I was leading a team of 5 from our church and sadly leaving my three girls at home.

God worked powerfully on the trip both in me and the team as well as in the girls there at the Nehemiah Houses.  I thought that I would throw out on quote from the trip that is really striking me even now.  In conversations with John Parsons, YWAM Philippines director, and fellow Oregon boy, we were discussing various things when somehow we got to the point where John recalled the words of Jesus warning his disciples to “Beware the yeast of Herod and of the Pharisees”

Mark 8:15 (Today’s New International Version)

15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

While we talked, John illuminated the plain truth of this warning that I had missed through many readings of this.  Jesus is telling us to watch out for the two main places of power in our world, Politics and Religion.  Watch out for those things he tells us, because he rightly saw how the power in both of those spheres will corrupt us and draw us away from him.  So I remind us during this American election season and during a time when many throughout the world are also working through political changes to beware the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod, because Christ alone is where we find the answers and hope we so desperately seek.

I first saw this video on Lars Rood’s Blog, and since I love U2, I loved this.  I checked out more vids and watched the original Greg Lake video also.  Both versions are really powerful, I think, and I love the U2 one just because it rocks, like U2 does (I hope, however, not to take away from Greg Lakes version cause it’s really powerful).   Just thought I would post these vids.

and Greg Lake’s

till trying to figure out one of those last lines

Hallelujah, Noel,

be it heaven or hell

at Christmas we get what we deserve

I get the point Greg lake make’s (which I think U2 echoes), but my big question is what about those who don’t get what they reserve.  what about those who get dumped on, or get used abused by different things and people. just wondering about that.

For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.            Galatians 3:26-28, NRSV

Election years are always interesting.  Media floods the public with choices, people pick their candidates and their sides and then they watch the debates to see their candidate shine and the other fail.  As we draw these sides we can eventually begin to vilify the other.  We find and point out the flaws in the other candidate, we poke holes in the other party’s stances and we politically rend our country in two, and we as the public comfortably ascribe to this national division and further enforces it.

We Christians frequently are the worst of all; because we like to bring Jesus into the mess.  We know that Jesus would vote for our candidate, or we know that he would be a republican or a democrat.  Somehow, we fall into this systemic division; we only see two available options, pick ours and then basically assume that the other option must be wrong, and therefore so must the candidate or.  This is a fairly easy connection to make, most people carefully think through their political positions and rightfully expect they’re correct, so the other side must be wrong.

It seems, however, that Jesus and Paul would tell us something different.  The Apostle John shows Jesus commanding his disciples to something more: “A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another,” (13: 34, 35 NIV).  Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples that they must always agree with each other, he tells them to love each other.  He holds his own love for them as their standard, and tells them they will be recognized, and even marked by this supernatural love.  Jesus’ command is simple, as we look to him for our example and salvation, we will live lives that radiate love to others.

Paul elaborates on this idea in his letter to the church in Galatia.  He knew that people were touting certain characteristics and lording it over one another.  Paul breaks the issue down: “you want to claim your ethnic heritage, your status, or your gender as a means of priority; well, we are all one in Christ,”.  Paul picks apart the common barriers of that time and church and nullifies them in Christ. Christians are exhorted to find their identity in Christ, and unity from being members of one body.

Our faith unifies us as God’s children and we are called to put aside particulars that mentally separate us from others.  We probably look past this passage often in twenty-first century America because there are no conflicts between Jews and Greeks, and we often don’t hold those social identifiers as strongly as the first century Mediterranean culture did.  I think, though, that if Paul were writing to our American church, he might have something to tell us and it might look something like this:

For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ.  There is no longer republican or democrat, and there is no longer liberal or conservative, neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Christians should absolutely be politically involved; we should spend time learning about issues, weighing them against theology and scripture and then vote based on our convictions.  I think, however, that we are called out of the election-year-fray; we are not to pick sides or vilify our opposition but we put our hope in a higher power.  Christ calls us to be marked by love, a unifying love that is patient and kind, not envious, boastful or proud.  Our love should not be rude, self-seeking, or easily angered nor keep records of wrongs.  Our love doesn’t delight in evil, but it rejoices in truth; it will always protect and hope and persevere, and God’s love does not fail.  As we enter the voting booths and wait for the outcomes may we remember that we are called to this love.

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