In another parody of lettered communication much more famous than this, an Englishman who once swore he would never believe in God or His principles, imitated the communication between the peopled hierarchy of Hell and its mentoring relationships with junior temptors.
Yes. It’s weird at first blush.
But give The Screwtape Letters long enough and you will find that it has an extraordinary commentary on mankind and his journey toward virtue and freedom in Christ.
In one letter, Uncle Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood,
My Dear Mr. Wormwood,
Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated upon politics. Arguments, political gossip, and focusing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character and the things the patient can control… Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is ‘out there’ in the ‘broken system’ rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.
I have recently been given the chance to share the highlights of my resume and the ministry that is represented by one printed page that summarizes more than a decade of service. During one such conversation, I felt my words ringing hollow.
While driving away, I discovered they felt hollow because I had to use the first person pronoun so often to discuss my work. In truth, it isn’t my work. I’m not even fixated upon the fact that it’s the work of the mighty teams that have powered the ministry I have had the chance to lead.
In Psalm 127, we see the truth in my work. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
I really spend my time bragging about God’s work. An accurate job interview is more like this time I saw a kid bleed at a youth meeting.
We were playing a chase game. They are fun.
Junior High/Middle School students need to run before you talk with them. They wiggle.
So we’re playing and one kid gets shoved while running, he goes airborne and then BLAM! Right into a metal pole that slices an “L” shape into his forehead. I ran to begin the first aid process, but Jay beat me to the scene. He was assessing any immediate dangers. As the thought crossed my brain to back the crowd up, Gus began barking them all backwards. I ran to get some paper towel, but April was exiting the restroom with a handful when I got to the door. Same with the ice machine as a team member took a bag of ice in.
I noticed that the music was too loud so I turned it down.
If you’re keeping track, that was the first thing I did.
Then the kid’s best friend walked in and cried into my shoulder.
I went to find the guy’s brother to get him to call his mom: already covered.
I went to bring the students in to sit them down and pray: done twice.
The next day, I reported about the work my team had done, bearing in mind that the only thing I did the whole time was turn down music and let a kid snot into my shoulder.
Chaplains praised my leadership.
Leadership is weird.
My resume, my leadership, my politics… they are all things that really belong to God. Well, at least that’s what they need to be good.
If I can submit all three of them to God and tell people about God’s work, God’s leadership, and God’s direction of my understanding of politics, the more potent I will be.
I recently discussed things with a man who has become a friend because he dedicates himself to the hearts of people. That kind of relentless pursuit of goodness within people will never fail to find it. It will even occasionally illicit it to come forth more potently.
That kind of fellowship is what we need in our political discourse right now.
We are so distracted by things that matter none at all to us. As Lewis observed, when we are so focused on the out there kabuki theatre that is our political system, we never see things that actually ever matter.
I mean, there’s a scandal about the Beto campaign spending their money on refugees.
Big Giant Who Cares.
Yes, we have laws. Yes, they did the wrong thing. Yes, they meant well. But we all know nothing is going to happen because of it. We also know it has nothing to do with the lack of relationships we have with our neighbors. I mean, I go to church and struggle to have a meaningful knowledge of the person to my right and left, and these are people I presume I will spend forever knowing in intimate relationship in the light of Jesus Christ.
So how hopeless is the search for some sort of meaningful relationship with someone next door who might be a whole different religious believer?
What we need is to turn off the politics. At least the politics that exist beyond our neighborhoods, towns, and states. Yes, be informed. Yes, know the doings of your government. But if you know chapter and verse about why the president makes you cringe and have the timeline memorized about all of his top ten worst tweets, and know how much each outfit his wife wears costs, but you do not know what the dude across the street does for a living or what his children are named, you have set up something akin to an idol in your life.
If you worship at the altar of hating the president, maybe it’s time to smash that idol and just love people.
If your worship membership is in the First Church of the Conservative Evangelical Better than Dumbocrat Dumb Dumb Dumbheads made from Dumbcakes, you have an idol that angers your actual God.
It’s time to burn that figurative totally not real analogous (please for the love of goodness this is an analogy don’t set fire to actual buildings) place of worship to the ground of your heart and in the ashes rediscover the sapling of faith in the actual God.
When He comes to establish His Kingdom forever
When He drives off all of the pretenders
When we walk through His streets of gold
When we see the fruit of the tree of life and taste its juice
When we walk beside the river of life and drink its crystal clear waters
He will be King.
And He is not a republican.
He is not a democrat.
He is the One King, and we need to listen to His politics
That take us from our indignation and echo chambers
To love people in the name of the King
And build His Kingdom in the hearts of man.
Categories: Dear Us,