The time has come for our politics to die; it has become too sick and twisted to save. Our politics has become infected with privilege as the rich and famous dance on the backs of the poor. Increasingly, the poor are disproportionately sent into wars that never end, and the sick are forced to buy insurance with deductibles that create mountains of debt. Ours is a culture in which women who are sexually assaulted pay a heavy price for raising their voice, and the color of our skin dictates whether we are more likely to die at the hands of the police, or end up in jail. We are living in a political moment when immigrants are being denied basic food and health care, and refugees are turned away. As Childish Gambino put it, “This is America”.
For the past few months I’ve been preaching through the book of Amos, which describes how the Lord condemns Israel for failing to treat people as human beings. Amos rails against the use religion to justify their way of life; he chastises those who play political and economic games with the poor and oppressed. The Lord is upset with those who ignore the law in order to make a profit and pad their bank accounts. In chapter seven, Amos receives a vision of a plumb line the Lord uses to measure the political and religious life of the people.
“See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of the Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” (7:8-9)
Maybe the time is ripe for some judgment, for some cleaning house. Maybe it’s time for our political institutions and parties to be cleansed. Maybe it’s time for our false sense of piety and indignation to be unmasked and shown for what it is—abstraction, justification, and complacency.
It’s time for the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement to come under God’s judgement for insisting that women have their babies while they fight to cut the financial support of welfare programs, health care, and education. It’s time to question the integrity of being “pro-life” while supporting endless foreign wars, bloated military budgets, and a militarized border that makes enemies of children and mothers. It’s also time for the hypocrisy of Christians on the left to be laid bare. Those who claim to be on the side of justice while politically and economically benefiting from the unjust structures that cause pain and suffering. It’s time for those on the left to be held accountable for using the poor, the immigrant, and the refugee as abstract causes to rally the base and maintain the status quo, with very little imagination or will to find real solutions that dismantle oppressive structures and empower individuals and communities with new forms of agency.
It’s time for the politics of the Christian community to be crucified, to be torn down, so we might be raised to a new form of life. The time has come us to abandon our archaic institutional loyalties, our outdated party affiliations, and our vitriolic social media campaigns, so we might attune our lives to the politics of the kingdom of God. God is at work in the world, bringing change and transformation. The power of resurrection is at work in this world, bringing new life and opening up the possibility for a new future. The time has come for our politics to die so we can create new partnerships and new forms of community that seek unity in our diversity. It is only through death that we experience the hope of resurrection as the power to live as signs of God’s transforming grace in this world. This is the hope of the prophet Amos, a political hope grounded in David:
“On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.” (Amos 9:11)