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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Wedge

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[November 17, 2010]   --"Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with 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. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahamís offspring, heirs according to the promise."-Galatians 3: 23-29

Something is happening today that happens every two years, and, is the source of much of my frustration.  Right now, today, in a couple of different places, probably in Washington, but perhaps all over America, political strategists are meeting.  Democratic strategists and leaders are gathered together, as are Republicans, and they are talking about the election that just happened, but they are already thinking about the next one.  As they ponder 2012, they are doing one thing in particular, they are coming up with wedge issues.  Wedge issues are crafted by politicians and political operatives and then tactfully introduced into the public psyche over the course of years.  Through interviews on television, mailers, news articles, and town hall meetings, these issues are implanted so that they may divide the electorate in the next election cycle, and they are crafted to favor one party over another.  For example, Democrats might focus on a piece of public policy they believe favors them, such as health care in 2008, or the Republicans may focus on a fiscal issue, such as the national debt, as they did in 2010.  The wedge issues are meant to divide us and push us away from one another and toward one of the two political parties.  We may identify with one issue, or one party, in particular, but make no mistake, the belief that health care is a fundamental right, or that the national debt is out of control, is not a coincidence.  You got help with that.

With all these wedge issues now floating around the public consciousness it is no wonder we don't get along.  We have been taught and trained to dislike one another if that other person doesn't see eye to eye with us on any particular issue or issue.  And because we allow ourselves to be sucked down this wormhole, where we actually come to the belief that one group is completely right, completely faithful and completely patriotic, while the other is completely wrong, completely unfaithful and completely unpatriotic, we make a mockery of the words of Paul that I quoted above.  You see, no wedge issue is so divisive as to be able to separate us, one from another.  You and I may disagree on this or that, but, if we are Christians, it doesn't change the fact that we are family.  It doesn't change the fact that we are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As if to reiterate this point, Paul is highlighting the wedge issues of his day.  In the culture of the time, women were to be seen, not heard, and were often treated as property while men made the money and controlled the household.  But all are one in Christ Jesus.  The monotheistic, devout, Jews were alienated from Greeks and their pagan, Hellenistic culture, but all are one in Christ Jesus.  Slaves were literally property, and could be treated with as much disdain as their master could muster.  But all are one in Christ Jesus.  As we reflect on politics in our nation, and as America's spin doctors and policy wonks meet to craft the issues that will lead to fisticuffs in 24 months, we should step aside and step back.  We should remember that, no matter how a person votes, or what they think of health care or the national debt, we are all one in Christ Jesus, our Lord.  And this truth is the only truth that really matters.

Prayer:  Holy God, on this day, and over the days ahead, help me to see every person I meet as your child.  Remind me that no matter what differences we might have, no one is less than human, nor is anyone deserving of my hatred.  Guide me in your ways, in Jesus' name, Amen.

[text from file received by Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]

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