So this past weekend the New York Times published an editorial that I think was pretty revealing about a pulse I sense in the current American bloodstream. If I can put a name to that pulse: A lot of Americans currently see themselves primarily as actors in a political play. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, one of the most interesting parts of life to them is this political narrative. They are willing to make major life choices (like, ahem, who they will be friends with) based on political storylines.
Now, I think some of this is due to the fact that the secular west that America is a part of has largely removed at least three major components from the center of human life: Worship of a deity (whether a false one or the one true God of Jesus Christ), marriage, and bearing and raising children. But it has to put something at the center of its people’s lives, because human beings inherently live for things. So since deity, marriage, and raising children are pushed to the cultural side, the secular West places a cosmic political battle at the heart of life. It says that this is what we live for. By contrast, I don’t think the political landscape is central to the average Nigerian, who is plugged into a church and has six children.
But more than talking about the cause, I wanted to take a second and simply highlight a better story (and, thankfully, a truer story) than the one that cradles mindsets like this editorialist’s.
Human beings need to see themselves in story. We are made this way by the Author of the grand Autobiography around us. This editorialist’s posture makes sense if you see yourself in a story where every human being is either an oppressor or oppressed (or an instrument of oppression). But that is not the story the Bible tells. And hence it is not the story we are in.
The Bible places us in a much grander story, a cosmic narrative in which a spiritual rebel against the good Creating King has seduced humanity to follow him. And this rebellion has scarred the universe by bringing upon it the curse of death and suffering. But in this shadowed and groaning world, that good King has entered the drama as chief groaner, and all to take into His own heart and flesh the pain and agony and judgment and death that our sin makes us deserve.
Through that sacrifice that He willingly and passionately made, and because of the victory He won by coming back from the other side of death, this King is ransoming for Himsef a people out of this wicked rebellion. He is winning them back. And He will one day plant them on a remade world, a new creation that is everything that should have been and everything that once was.
That is the story we are in. Not one of merely political schema or of America versus North Korea. Not one of Good People Group A against Malevolent People Group B. Not one of one humanly constructed ideaology triumphing over another. (Not even one of how far I can rise at the office or how many people I can get to admire me on Facebook.) This current American narrative of one political group heroically fighting against a villainous counterpart is too small to live for and too fragile to hope in.
And that is the heartbeat, an all too common one, that I see revealed in this editorial. And it’s a sad one. A person who believes the greatest struggle is politics has no greater demon to fight than the other party. He has no greater worship song to sing than the voices of his favorite pundits. He has no stronger altar to kneel at than the one engraved with his favorite political issue.
We have a greater story to live for than Barack Obama versus Donald Trump. We have a better hope than either house of Congress can provide. There is a King on the throne, and He has done something remarkable.
And it’s not done yet.
He is returning to finish what He started.