August 2, 2015
John 6:24-35
Ephesians 4:1-16
2 Samuel 11:26--12:13a
Psalm 51:1-12


Politics “Trumps” Ephesians
Proper 13 | OT 18


Click here for the full installment.

Robin Lostetter
In the opening verses of this week’s epistle passage, the writer of Ephesians makes a heartfelt plea for comity and respect -- begging the readers of his letter to live “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” But as team member Robin Lostetter points out in the next installment of The Immediate Word, even a cursory glance at the headlines would suggest that in our society this request has fallen on deaf ears. Of course, the most glaring current example is the ongoing soap opera that is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Though Trump has become the favorite target of late-night comedians, he has undoubtedly benefitted from his repeated pattern of bold comments -- ranging from his characterization of Mexican immigrants as “drug dealers and rapists” to his trashing of anyone he sees as an opponent (political or otherwise). Indeed, he’s not only dominated media attention but also ascended to the top of the polls amongst a fractured field of Republican candidates. But Trump’s approach, while extreme, is hardly unique -- in our polarized political environment, it is a rare candidate who exhibits any degree of humility, gentleness, or patience. As a result, voters have become cynical and tend not to trust any candidate.

But as Robin notes, it’s not just politics where we see this lack of humility and patience -- in a culture where we have come to expect instant communication and instant solutions, and which is dominated by fascination with “celebrities,” the qualities lifted up by the writer of Ephesians are becoming more difficult to find. Our fascination with gaining fame and fortune -- and the tendency of our media to make stars of those who achieve success -- means that humility, gentleness, and patience are rarely rewarded as well as aggressiveness, impatience, and taking advantage of others. We even see this paradigm in the viral video of a Texas traffic stop that spiraled out of control, eventually leading to the death of Sandra Bland while she was in custody. Both the trooper and the driver had multiple opportunities to defuse the situation -- but neither party appeared to show any interest in “bearing with one another in love.” Perhaps we all need a refresher course in the importance of humility and respect for others... for as our text reminds us, we are not the “masters of the universe”; rather, we are merely one small part of the entire Body of Christ, “joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped.” Here’s a preview:

 

Politics “Trumps” Ephesians
by Robin Lostetter
Ephesians 4:1-16

It’s satisfying, isn’t it? We get some guilty pleasure watching Donald Trump take potshots at the other presidential candidates. In part it may just be comedy; in part it may be that we share some of his views; in part it may be that he’s tackling issues that otherwise remain “the elephant in the room”; and in part it may just be a play to our lower instincts.

But the writer of Ephesians says: “I... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” What higher calling is there than to be a servant of the people? Surely confidence is needed in meeting other heads of state face to face, but that confidence might better be based in preparedness than in aggression.

And politics isn’t the only arena where we see this dynamic. Our cultural bent has gradually turned from humility and common good toward the assertive promotion of the individual --- our rights, our personal space, our opinions (even in defiance of facts). We’ll explore how this affects the creation and nurture of community in the church, in the marketplace, and in politics!

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Immediate Word Team
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George Reed


Mary Austin


Ronald H. Love


Dean Feldmeyer


Leah Lonsbury


Chris Keating


Robin Lostetter