This has been a difficult week for our nation and for many of us personally. As a follower of Jesus, I am especially feeling the division, the fracture, the damage. I scroll social media and see people I’ve known for years, people who have sat beside me in church or served alongside me in ministry or prayed with me and helped me carry burdens — I see these people believing and defending things I find unfathomable.
And I realize there are those who chastise me for adding to the division by posting the things I do. But I cannot remain silent in the face of evil and hatred and mischaracterization of the God I love.
My heart is heavy. And so this morning, I’ve opened my Bible and read the words of ancient prophets, looking for comfort. Or at least the reassurance that nothing is new under the sun – that nothing surprises our God or moves us outside God’s reach.
For much of my life, I sat on a pew in one conservative church or another and heard the warnings — there would be false prophets, people who profess the name of God would turn from God, misrepresent God, call evil good and good evil, exchange the truth of God for a lie. Of course, back then, the focus was mostly on sex – as has been the conservative church’s misguided focus for the last 50 years.
But as I’ve pored over the prophets in the last decade, I see their warnings, the sins they cried out against: hearts hardened to the poor and needy, siding with the oppressor over the oppressed, turning away foreigners in need, mistreating orphans and widows, putting faith in military strength rather than in the Lord, growing rich and greedy and selfish, becoming proud, practicing empty religion for show. These are the sins that brought God’s judgment in Old Testament times. And because God’s heart doesn’t change, I suppose these are the sins that trouble God’s heart today.
As I look around at so many professing Christians who are defending this week’s insurrection, repeating baseless lies about who is to blame, calling the terrorists “patriots,” and continuing in support of a leader who incited mob violence, I easily imagine how Ezekiel and Jeremiah must have felt as they preached God’s warnings and watched the people fall prey to false prophets. I read their laments with new understanding as I see people misrepresent God and call evil good and exchange truth for a lie.
As my brain and my sense of justice grapple with how otherwise intelligent people can convince themselves that every involved election official and judge (good people, many of whom are Republicans, who have faithfully served their communities) – that these good people are lying. And instead, they choose to believe a man who, in the months leading up to the election, was telling more than 50 lies each day – more than 50 things that could be fact-checked and clearly determined not to be true each and every day for months and months. They choose to believe this man who has been proven to cheat on his taxes, to duck out of paying bills, to cheat his employees out of pay. They choose to believe this man who has cheated on all his wives. They have determined that everyone else is lying and Trump is telling the truth. My brain struggles to comprehend. It weighs heavy on my heart.
I think the prophets spoke of this as choosing to be deaf and blind to truth.
As I read Jeremiah, I relate to his distress. He loves his city, his nation. He understands that God’s judgment is warranted, that his people have brought this upon themselves. He weeps. He cries out to God. He mourns his own mistreatment, grieves that the people wouldn’t listen to him. And yet — Jeremiah does not become completely hopeless.
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
This week has been hard. By every indication based on actual evidence, the President of the United States, helped by some other national leaders and some in federal law enforcement and the military, attempted to disrupt the certifcation of the results of a fair and free election (as determined by judges appointed by him or those in his political party) and stage a coup. People who claim the name of God have seen (or perhaps ignored) the video footage and photographs of angry mobs violently attacking our Capitol Building, chanting evil intentions, carrying zipties, breaking windows and scaling walls, killing a police officer, creating a gallows on which to presumably hang or intimidate our Vice President and other government officials — people who claim the name of God have seen (or perhaps ignored) all of this and continue to defend the President and those they call “patriots,” who carried out these actions.
They misrepresent the Jesus I love. They have exchanged the truth for a lie. They call evil good. They choose to be blind and deaf to reality.
But God’s faithfulness remains. God’s steadfast love never ceases. God’s mercies never come to an end. Though people disappoint us and break our hearts, though our government leaders and faith leaders falter — God’s faithfulness remains. Therefore, I will hope in God. Great is God’s faithfulness. This truth shelters me and holds me steady.