That’s Not What Their Looking At!

For those of you looking for an intelligent quasi-political commentary like yesterday this may not be it.  So I went to the YMCA yesterday with my family so that my kids could complete their swimming lessons.  During that time I went to the treadmill to run.    I have become keenly aware over the years that when I get on a treadmill I am not just another person that is running on the treadmill.  I am “did you see that one-legged guy running on the treadmill!”

When I first lost my leg I had all sorts of insecurities but the biggest one of all (and please remember that I was 16) was sex appeal.  I was truly afraid that I would no longer be attractive by the opposite sex.  Honestly as a 16 year old boy I believed that this would have a very adverse effect on any sort of sex life.  Later on in life my insecurities about what people thought waned.  When I was in college I stripped off all the cosmetic stuff of my leg because it wasn’t fooling anyone.  It just delayed people’s awareness that I had one leg.  Getting married to my beautiful wife was a tremendous boost in confidence because it was such a concern for me.

So back to the Y.  After I ran on the treadmill for awhile I went to sit in the hot tub with my wife.  Since I was a swimmer in high school I stopped being so self conscious about taking my leg off to get in the pool.  But back when I was a swimmer I was a skinny guy with one leg.  Here is the funny part of the story.  In my twisted mind, because I am getting old and out of shape, I somehow thought people were looking at my gut.  That is when this one-legged, scarred up from surgery, prosthesis resting on the wall, guy realized that maybe my gut was the last thing that was on people’s mind when they looked at me.  That, I was okay with because I have been getting stared at because of that for years.

It Told Myself I Wouldn’t Do It

I have been most aggravated over the last few day because of the rhetoric by people in regards to the Syrian Crisis.  To be honest my aggravation has been leveled at all sides of the issue.  I know a few things about blogs metrics that makes me believe that the three people that read this will probably not agree with me.  I also know that with the legion of articles, blogs, memes, Facebook posts, tweets, etc.  this particular voice will most likely be lost.  And like I said in the title I told myself I wouldn’t enter my voice into the fray because it would be part of the white noise.  But one thing keeps bugging me to the point that I needed to get it off my chest.  So here it goes.

What I am about to say is not going to land (hopefully) politically on one side of the debate on what we should do about Syria, its refugees, or the other issues surrounding this crisis.  Those of you that know me will probably get my political views while dealing with one of my coffee infused rants, but I wish to keep my views on politics out of this to address the Kingdom of Jesus and the Kingdom of this world.  If you asked me to take in a refugee family from Syria I would (upon discussing it with my wife of course), and if you told me that the U.S. government decided to not allow it, I would also acquiesce.  You may ask yourself how I could possibly live in the tension of both of those ideas when all parties right now seem to be making this a political or moral issue.  I would say that what I expect from a government is different than I would expect from an individual.  What I would expect from someone that follows Jesus is different than what I would expect from someone that does not.  The decision that I would expect a Jesus follower to make for an entire country is actually going to conflict many times with a decision that they would make for their own family.

Why?  Because government was never set up to behave the way an individual would.  And by the way, God warned us of this in the Bible (1 Samuel).  And in case you all think that we should disregard the Old Testament in light of Jesus, Jesus also made a clear statement about this (give unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s).  Jesus also made it clear throughout his ministry that our hope was in Christ and not on the structures of this world.  I desire that government will make moral decisions that will lead others to Jesus, but I don’t put my hope there.

In another life I was a government teacher.  The first question that I would ask at the Christian School that I taught at was “what is the fatal flaw of democracy?”  A question that calls into question my allegiance to America I know.  After the kids would work through their struggles with what they knew and what their parents had instilled in them I would say “the fatal flaw with democracy is that if the people are not seeking God, or at the very least moral, then the government will not do likewise.”  I believe that democracy is a great buffer to one person making all of the decisions that is not seeking God or is immoral.  Democracy makes this issue about what I would do as an individual versus what I would expect of my government a fuzzy one because we are supposed to be the government.  I get to bring my viewpoint and my vote to bear on issues and policy (and I do), but ultimately the greater good of the people as a whole hopefully will be served well by the majority decision.  I know that is not always the case, but I am speaking about the ideal.

Ethically and practically speaking government is supposed to behave in a more utilitarian way, the best for the greatest number of people.  However, a Jesus follower is supposed to work in a kingdom way, which means that we will seek God and hopefully become like Jesus and help others do the same.  That, by the way, is not always utilitarian.  Here is a mind blower, Following Jesus might not look anything like the most practical way to run a government.  Selling out to Jesus will, and already has in many cases, not turned out well for people.  This is true in the United States and around the world (to much more dire consequences).

Please, Jesus following brothers and sisters, lets not lose track of the fact that both sides of the Syria issue are trying the best they can to interpret the best course of action according to what Jesus would do.  I hope and pray that all Jesus followers and all people really would be the kind of people that would welcome the alien as God would have us do.  But I also know that the Bible makes it clear that governments many times have to make decisions that a Jesus follower, or just a merciful person, would not make for the greater good.  Demonizing people on either side of this allows us to be leveraged for political purposes and does not allow is to make the best decision.