As I write today we don’t know the results of our presidential election and that’s okay. No matter who is elected, our work as Christians does not change.
It is the great and glorious day of our God. The Spirit of God is poured out upon me, upon you Anointed Ones of God.
We are about the business of building the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Our goal is the Beloved Community of God no matter what political party is in power. The work is challenging. We are supposed to be salt and light for our world. As salt we are meant to bring out the goodness, the flavor, the preserving power of justice, mercy, and love. As light we are meant to push back the darkness of ignorance, fear, and hopelessness.
Of course this task is easier when those who govern us are more in line with God’s ways of doing things and this is why we involve ourselves in politics. We don’t want the struggle of standing up for the ways of God in a world that resists and fights back against God. We don’t enjoy the persecution and insults that follow when the government resists God.
When Christ became incarnate as Jesus so we could experience and see clearly the ways of God, people in his day didn’t understand what he had to offer. They ended up killing him. In those last moments with humanity, as Jesus stood before the government of his day, people were offered a choice. They could choose him or they could choose Barabbas.
Barabbas is an excellent metaphor for the ways of this world system. He represents all of those who seek justice, freedom, and peace through force and violence. He represents those who believe that “might makes right” and “the end justifies the means.” He represents those who rule by a system of rewards and punishments, especially punishments, in order to get people to do what is wanted of them. The ways of Barabbas don’t work in the long run, but people keep trying to enforce compliance through force and violence. Carried to extremes, people can become vicious and cruel and still think they are pursuing what is good.
God knows that true peace can never come through violence. Violence begets violence. Violence may win and force compliance, but it can never bring peace. It can never bring about God’s Beloved Community. Christ came into our world in a quiet, unassuming manner. He came proclaiming freedom, justice, and security for all people. But he came to bring about God’s kingdom through reconciliation, calling for repentance, asking us to change the way we do things. He came to restore relationships. First he brings us back into a loving relationship with God, then heals our relationships with one another and with Creation.
The people of his day didn’t get it. They wanted a strong man, a Messiah figure to lead them in victory, to make their nation great again. Jesus looked weak to them, and Barabbas looked strong. They chose Barabbas, the man convicted of violence against the state. Christianity under the guidance of emperors, starting with Constantine, was constantly tempted to choose Barabbas, and too often gave in to that temptation. But there has always been a remnant of loyal followers of Christ Jesus. Those who believe in the vision God has for humanity and for Creation. We are the salt and the light for the world and we dare not give up our mission.
The kingdom of God was planted on this earth by Christ Jesus and is growing. Yes, it gets set back now and again, but it persists. It cannot be stopped because the Holy Spirit cannot be stopped.
People easily embrace nationalism, get caught up in worship of the strong man, and out of fear, comply with the way things are. But we are called to take the narrow way of Christ, a way of non-violence. We take up our cross and follow the ways we have learned from Christ Jesus, and no matter who is president, we persist in working to create communities of peace, justice, and love. This is our mission.
Be not afraid, and carry on my beloved ones in Christ.