Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream, and like John Lennon, I can imagine a better world. I have a dream that people would set aside their particular political views and work together for the common good. I can imagine a world without hatred and blame-shifting, and calling intolerance social justice. A world without ideologies that seek to divide us into “us vs. them.”
Jesus said something rather cryptic to His disciples, warning against two very divisive and dangerous spirits.
15 Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 NKJV)
The “leaven of the Pharisees” is a religious spirit that separates people from God and each other. You can tell you’re under its influence if everything that God promised is “not yet” and “not you.” You may be taught to fear, or even be against any other group or denomination that doesn’t believe like you do.
The “leaven of Herod” is a political spirit that seeks to separate people into factions. It’s a polarizing spirit. You can tell if you’re under the influence of a political spirit if you cannot find anything good to say about, or agree with, the opposing party.
It’s interesting that our founding forefathers warned us against forming political parties. If only we had listened.
I’m not telling you not to vote this fall. In fact, your voice being heard at the ballot box has probably never been more critical than now. I’m asking you not to succumb to fear, because both the political and religious spirits traffic in fear. But fear is a liar and a bully. The truth is, “His perfect love casts out fear”; for you have not been given a spirit of fear, “but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (1 John 4:18; 2 Tim.1:7).
As followers of Christ we need to renounce both of these spirits because they are anti-Christ. They seek to divide what God has brought together in Christ. These evil spirits are diametrically opposed to God’s other-centered, self-giving love. As I said last time, they seek to “steal, kill, and destroy” everything that makes living in community good.
So, in this sense, I can imagine a world without religion and without political factions.
Here’s a thought experiment. What if you and I just forgot about political parties and fighting over who’s to blame? What if we bypassed all of that and, instead, came together to tackle the toughest problems facing our communities, not with more failed government programs, but as compassionate human beings who said, “How can I help?”
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one” (Imagine, John Lennon)
This is not just a dream because there are people already doing just this. You won’t hear about them on the news because it doesn’t fit the narrative.
But here’s the rub for the rest of us looking on. We would have to repent first. We would need to repent of our unloving, divisive, hateful, factious spirit. We would have to stop labeling people, putting them into groups. We would also need to renounce any organization or party that manipulates events for political gain, which further tears us apart.
We would need to think for ourselves and stop being manipulated by the media.
We would have to care about everyone, not just those we agree with in our echo chambers. We would truly need to see each other as God sees us and stop making it about the color of people’s skin and start making it about the content of people’s character. We would need to learn how to listen to those we think are the enemy and find something we can rally around. We would need to learn how to love others as we would want to be loved.
This doesn’t mean we would have to agree on everything or renounce our cultural differences. As I said before on this blog, God loves diversity because He created us this way. But divisiveness is of another spirit altogether.
Beloved, as we find ourselves in “nightmare on main street,” or perhaps, “fear and loathing in America” because it’s an election year and the crazy people have the microphone, we must remember that love triumphs over fear. I will not submit to fear, and neither should you. I will do all in my power to not let it win the day. I hope you will, too.
I will close my thoughts with Jesus’ dream for all of us. I want to join Him in His dream. As John Lennon said, I hope someday you will join us. God bless.
21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23 NIV)