Add your voice and actions to the river of change

There’s more forgiveness in God than sin in us. Not only do I say that, I even believe it.

What’s interesting is how comforting I find that belief when it applies to me, but how challenging that same belief can be when I apply it to (some) others. I mean, some others have an awful lot of sin in them, don’t you think?

Just ask Jonah, as in the big fish-dweller. God told him to go to Nineveh, which was enemy territory for Jonah, and tell them they’ll be wiped out. Jonah didn’t want to go, but he did. The people repented, God forgave them, and Jonah said, in my paraphrase, “Come on, God. I didn’t want to do this to start with. Least you can do is smite the people!”

Speaking of hope, which we were since we were talking about divine forgiveness, it occurs to me that hope and optimism have little to do with each other. Optimism is based on circumstances and forecasts. Hope is a state of mind independent of circumstances. It might be said that hope is trust despite the circumstances.

I hope the future will be better than the present. Most of us likely hope the same. If that is to happen, it’ll be up to us to make it happen. Probably no other way – even if a big fish is involved.

And it’ll take actions alongside words. Words carry a lot of weight, from how we say them to what we say with them, but it is through our actions that we bring things into being.

Speaking of politics, which we were since we were talking about the future and about things being better, I like this definition: poli, meaning many; and tics, meaning those little blood sucking insects. Just teasing, but I do like that.

Politics is not primarily about campaigns or candidates. Politics is about the water you drink and the air you breathe and making sure both are clean. Politics is about children not going to bed hungry. Politics is about all of us having access to the health care we need. Politics is about people being at war or at peace.

Politics is about distributing economic goods and defining property rights. Politics is determining what a crime is and how it will be punished. Politics affects the degree to which we can speak or write or even worship. Politics defines who will be accepted as members of a community and who will be placed in the margins. Politics even seriously influences how you raise your children by determining the circumstances of family life and, don’t forget, establishing much of the subject matter of their education.

So, then, the question “should religion have a role in politics” is the wrong question. It does. Religion matters. A better question is how should religion and politics interact or relate? Religion has long been important to people who are concerned about politics, and politics have been important to the people who are most concerned about religion.

If religious values are to influence the public sphere, they ought to make our political discourse more honest, more civil, and more spiritually sensitive especially to those without the voice and power to be fairly represented.

You see, what is at stake is never “just politics.” It’s deeper than that. At stake here is the very meaning of our life together.

Being a fan of the whole “show, don’t tell” concept in writing, I’ll use an image to conclude.

Each of us is like an individual trickle of water. When they come together, trickles turn into streams and then merge and become rivers. With enough energy and force these rivers can become mighty rivers, so mighty that they have the power to shape or reshape the very landscape around them.

Today, our public landscape could use some new shaping.

So, all of us, a whole bunch of little trickles, let’s highlight the best in who we are and who we could become and let’s join voices and actions with ancestors, comrades, and those yet to come. Together let’s insist that justice for all people actually roll down like waters and righteousness for everyone be shared!

Wilson is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Read and subscribe to his writings at Follow him on Twitter: @nathandaywilson

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