On Wednesday, an individual (whom I have no interest in naming) opened fire on a GOP congressional baseball practice. It’s obvious his target was Republicans. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was one of the four wounded.
The pundits gave us the political take on the shooting. But I’m asking, “What is a faith perspective?”
Here’s a thought: The shooter is solely responsible for his actions. I don’t care about his political affiliation, or the media and celebrities which might have influenced him. I don’t care whether he used a gun. Those are peripheral issues to be debated at an appropriate time; his actions are what count.
Faith tells me I can’t make excuses for my actions if they don’t line up with what is right. It’s the same for the shooter, who bears total responsibility. Period.
Other Voices are Responsible for Their Actions, Too
Recently, we noted Kathy Griffin’s antics. Her use of a severed head depicting Donald Trump is not responsible for anyone else’s actions, but she is responsible for her tasteless attempt at what she first defended as “art.”
Griffin is hardly alone. A Julius Caesar play in New York City’s Central Park depicts the Caesar character as a man who looks a lot like President Trump, who is assassinated in the play.
Free speech? Yes. But do either of these examples raise our level of discourse? Do they make us better as a nation? No.
No one is letting Mr. Trump off the hook here; some of his tweets and statements can leave anyone but his most ardent supporters scratching their heads.
More important though, if I’m to be defined by my relationship with Jesus Christ, what about me?
First, civil discourse is my responsibility, too. Whether one person or 100,000 read this site (our numbers are somewhere in the middle of those two . . .), my words need to be clear and consistent with my declaration of faith.
This doesn’t mean, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Heck, Jesus didn’t do that.
When my day comes, I don’t want someone at my funeral saying, “He never said a bad word about anyone.” This sounds nice, but it’s not Biblical. Jesus had to say bad things, and did so. So did Paul. Oh, and Jeremiah, Isaiah . . . we could go on. That’s good company.
But when Jesus gave religious leaders monikers such as “actors,” (our translations generally say, “hypocrites”) or “snakes,” he had a definite purpose; he wasn’t just going for shock value. And, what he said was always true.
It’s all right to call out bad behavior when necessary, and if someone must be called a liar for the truth to win, so be it.
But if I must call someone out, let me do so only when a greater purpose is at stake, only when truth can be advanced which will make for a better world.
Second, I need to invite more to join the journey to a 1stFaith. Those early followers of Jesus really were followers. They were different because of their words and actions. And others were attracted to their movement.
I don’t need to let today’s politics distract me from the big mission: asking others to join a life-changing journey. If my focus is more political than faithlical (new word, trademark coming), I’m missing the mark.
Do politics matter? Heck, yeah. I live in a free country and want to take advantage of it. No denying that. But understanding what is most important matters more.
While I’m not sure about the future of political discourse in our country, I do know this; I’ve got a responsibility to make it better. As I do, keeping in mind whom I serve is a great place to start.