Are You Tuned into the Main Event?

microphone-1159791_640Humans – we’re always more fascinated with the sideshow than we are with the main event, aren’t we?

There are majestic elephants in the center ring? Ho-hum, we’ve seen elephants before. Old news, baby. We’re dashing down the curtained alley for a glimpse at the bearded lady. The weird and wild feed our ravenous appetite for entertainment and distraction. Is it any wonder that one of the top-running presidential candidates expressed great respect for comparisons to P.T. Barnum? That man understood our reckless hunger for show.

Like every other responsible American, I pay attention to the presidential candidates. I listen to their platforms, check their records, try to glean something true about their characters, and do my best to determine which is worthy of my vote. For me, it’s a quiet process. I appreciate other believers who write reflectively and intelligently about the issues. I do care about our country.

Still, I believe that ultimately, the person who sits in the seat of power of any given nation is not the main event of any given day for the Body of Christ. I respect that God determines which powers will govern and know they have a certain amount of sway over our lives but none of them determines the future of my soul, of our faith, of the church, of Christianity.

The power in the Oval office can change lives but you know what? So can you and I. We’re each more powerful than we know or even want to know. In the old sitcom SOAP, Burt Campbell believed he could make himself invisible with a snap of his fingers. Of course, he couldn’t, but he persisted in that notion. It seems crazy until you compare it to many of us who persist in believing we can escape the notice of the Almighty by routinely pointing fingers at the bigger players on the stage.

I think when we post condemnations of any candidate’s spiritual life, character, or views with an eye to tearing them down, God doesn’t applaud our boldness so much as He wonders why we suddenly believe slander and gossip are permissible just because others are doing it. Christians who spread rumors, scathing, unkind character assassinations, or who act in unloving ways toward other Christians based on their support of certain candidates are simply showing they’re too easily distracted by the sideshow.

When Nehemiah mourned over the ruin of Jerusalem, he had the ear of a great king. He didn’t petition the king to order the city rebuilt, he asked for permission to return and rebuild it. And Nehemiah didn’t rebuild Jerusalem alone. Every family worked on the wall outside his or her home. They didn’t rely on the king for protection but each household protected and rebuilt their section of the wall.

As we scrutinize every word, act, and decision of the men and women running for office are we showing up in the mirror of God’s Word for an examination of our own? Are we depending on some earthly power to make a difference for Christ on earth while we munch popcorn? Are we hoping the White House will love our neighbor for us? The candidates are not the only ones being tested during this election, loved ones. We are, too. This is the main event in the center ring for people of faith.

This excerpt from Running from a Crazy Man reminded me today what matters and helped me rend my own eyes from the side show back to the only thing God’s asking me tonight. Do I have my eyes on the main event or do my actions betray my attraction to the side show?

Parable of the Oblivious Woman

Once there was a powerful ruler.

He enjoyed the favor of many in his kingdom but just as many resented his rule. Those who favored him celebrated him at every opportunity, petitioning the ruler for favors and gloating over the other citizens. Those who resented his rule criticized him at every opportunity, opposing his decrees and raging against him. Daily in the square, crowds gathered to argue with one another, writing bold pronouncements, curses, or praise, on the public wall.

One day, a student noticed an old woman going about her day, oblivious to the division and the outcry. She rose early every morning to pray. She ran errands for shut-ins, bringing them their daily bread and a good word. She cleaned her home and cared for the needy. She corrected unruly children, advising their parents on discipline. She grew herbs for the sick, brewing strong teas for their fevers. Often, she visited lonely prisoners or brought blankets to the homeless. Always, after dark, she lit her lamp and walked again to prayer.

After watching her several days, the student approached her in her garden. “Excuse me, old woman. What do you say of our ruler?”

She replied, “I say he’s a man under God. I pray God’s wisdom upon him every morning and every night.”

“But, are you in favor of him or against?” he pressed.

“I’m opposed to no man who labors for our Lord, and I’m in favor of every man that does His will,” she answered.

The young man cocked his head, “That is no answer.”

She looked up. “If you would continue to pelt me with questions, then you must work alongside me.” And she motioned him to join her at her labor.

Throughout the day, he followed her from task to task, laboring with her as she ministered to others. Often, he opened his mouth to ask her a question, but quickly he would forget that question as she pressed him to bandage a wound, serve the stew, comfort a grieving heart, or corral a wandering child. At day’s end, bone-weary but filled with awe at a day well lived, the student followed her to her place of prayer. When they finished, he touched her arm, “Please, tell me, old woman. Why don’t you concern yourself with our ruler?”

She smiled. “God gives me only so much energy for each day. Which task would you have me leave undone so that I might argue at the wall or debate over this one man?”

“But he’s a powerful man!” he replied.

“Ah, but my God is more powerful still. Some, I suppose, He calls to support or oppose those who rule, but me, He’s given a heart to serve. So, that’s what I do.”

The student prayed through the night. At dawn, he knocked on the old woman’s door. “Good woman, may I join you in your service again today?”

“Aye,” she smiled indicating the wheelbarrow. “Let us begin.”

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)

I’ll get back to you later. I’m off to check my portion of the wall.

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    The Conversation

  1. Carla says:

    Per usual, excellent, Lori. Daniel 2:21 says that Abba installs kings (or presidents) or brings them down. Think about this for a moment: We believe we are in the End Times, and this means one world ruler. IF the countries are a united front, financially secure and militarily strong, will the king (or president) willingly give over their authority and lose the power over their own country? I think not. SOMETHING must happen that will give the rulers incentive to give over to the One World Ruler. To me, this means either global pandemic or catastrophe, global war or financial ruin. We already see so many countries having to file bankruptcy that this is well on it’s way.

    We HAVE to vote our conscience, no matter if we know the outcome or not. I pray for wisdom for us all, that instead of carrying banners and bad-mouthing potential candidates (regardless of what we think of them) we need to be Jesus’ hands and feet, like the little lady in your parable. We can’t stop what’s coming, but we CAN make sure we reach as many as we can with the Truth of the Gospel, because Jesus truly is the only way to Life. God bless, hon

  2. Jim Fennell says:

    Another awesome reflection, Lori, and not just because it weaves together Scripture and Burt Campbell!!! Our political dialogue today has become filled with such negativity, vitriol, xenophobia, knowing untruth, and hatred, it is refreshing to see perspectives such as yours. This serves as a reminder of what our involvement in the process should be and how we can follow The Way the Jesus taught us even in secular matters, even when they can at times get “ugly.” Even though we can hold strong feelings one way or another in worldly events like political elections or other aspects of life in today’s world, we need to remember that our true foundation is the solid rock of Christ, and if we follow His way, we accomplish more than any shouting or showboating or degrading.

    Thank you one again for reminding us to listen for the small, still voice amidst all the noise, and to ensure that our actions match our faith more than they match the madding crowd. Peace and Blessings to you always!!