Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Romans 12

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” 

More thoughts for meditation

Over the past few weeks, I have picked up a book I haven’t read in a long time Walter Wink’s The Powers That Be. I picked it up for two reasons. First, through social media I have had interactions with people who have some very different political views than myself when it comes to public health and safety, civil liberties, civil unrest and protesting about our unjust institutions. During the encounters it is easy for me to forget that I am called to love my enemies. Though these friends and family may not be enemies it can feel like it these days (or at least on Facebook.) 

The second reason is that when I hear and see what many of our politicians are saying and how our institutions of government are being used to hurt people my blood boils. So, I picked up Walter Winks book to be reminded of a few things. The first thing is that There is nothing, from DNA to the United Nations, that does not have God at its core. Everything has a spiritual aspect. Everything is answerable to God.” I don’t know how, but the idea that ICE and the border patrol will someday be held accountable by God for their actions is reassuring to me. 

Paul’s writes in Galatians 6:12 “we fight against not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities” Walter Wink describes how institutions can become demonic and evil and these “Unjust systems perpetuate themselves by means of institutionalized violence.” If I were to list all the ways our current systems perpetuate violence, I would not have any room to say anything else. Paul is telling us to “cling to what is good and hate what is evil.” When these words are filtered through God’s Mercy as seen on the Cross, I have to conclude that he is not talking about hating my racist rural cousin, or that jerk from my old job who doesn’t want to be taxed to educate his neighbors kids. But I need to hate the evils perpetuated by our systems, the ideas and the beliefs that cause evil actions. 

The racist expressions of my cousin are evil, but there is hope for him as a child of God. When it comes to the Trumps and Betsy Devos’s of the world it is even more tempting to see them as just evil. But if we fight against them as people, even if they were to be destroyed, will not others step into their places? The work of the Spirit is redemption — for my cousin, Trump, and our government systems. There is hope that my cousin will change one day, and I may be instrumental in helping that occur — but not if I hate him, resent him, and treat him horribly in the process.  One way I am able to have hope for my cousin is by clinging to the good in him, remembering he too is God’s Beloved.  But desiring my cousin’s heart to change is not enough, as Walter Wink points out, “Personal redemption cannot take place apart from the redemption of our social structures.”  This is why we as a Circle of Hope have found and continue to find real tangible ways to fight against the evil in our unjust systems while loving the people around us. 

Suggestions for action

  • Read today’s except verses several times. Close your eyes, rest in them. Listen to the Spirit. See what arises up in you. Pay attention and move in the ways you feel moved to move.
  • Rest and reflect: How is the evil around us effecting you? What do you have that may need to grieved for? Where is the good around you? What good do you need to cling to restore your zeal?  
  • One of the main evils in our country is racism. If you feel like you need to know more about it,  Smithsonian Magazine has put together a wealth of information in easily accessible videos, podcasts, and articles. I would encourage everyone to check it out.