God Is in Charge?

nightbeforedawnLet me get rid of the question mark. That was just click bait.

God is in charge.

I have no doubt of that truth. I’ll stake my life on it.

But I’m not sure it means what we think it means. For the people around me — white, middle and upper middle class church people — what I hear when I listen between the lines is this: “Oh, yes, this election is disappointing, (or for some, encouraging) and there may be some things happen that I don’t like or that I will disagree with, maybe even some things that will be inconvenient for me, but it will all come out in the wash. It will be fine, because after all, God is in charge.”

That sentiment itself is privilege. Sure, it will probably be fine for me and people like me. But there’s a whole lot of people who are at much greater risk this morning than they were yesterday morning, at least if the president-elect chooses to keep his xenophic, homophobic promises for the privileged.

To all the people out there who look like me, can you imagine what it would have been like to wake up this morning Muslim? Or Mexican? or LGBQT? Or any of the other people who have been demeaned in this campaign? Imagining that things will be all right is a luxury that none these, our siblings, are afforded.

And there’s more. Believing that God is in charge has never meant that we can escape the consequences of our active participation in or complicity in evil. To target and implicate as terrorists an entire religion is evil. To act on the premise that women are objects for the sexual gratification of men is evil. To refuse to welcome to the stranger is evil. To treat LGBQT persons and their intimate relationships as if they are not as fully human and therefore not valid is evil.

Got any notion what happens when God’s people are participants in or complicit with evil?  If you need a review, read through Isaiah again or Micah or Amos, or, for that matter any of the Old Testament prophets. Oh, God is in charge all right.

I think it might be time for the church of Jesus Christ — dare I say the white church? — to put on some sackcloth and ashes. There’s enough sackcloth to go around for those who wear blue and those who wear red. Because this isn’t about party loyalty; this is about being honest about who we are as a people. And the evil to which we have become complicit. It’s time for a gut check about what we mean when we confess “Jesus is Lord.” Maybe a little sackcloth and ashes could bring the freedom that would empower us as church to do better. To live as if we truly are the body of Christ. To take the ethical implications what has too long been a privatized faith and live it as if we really believed it.

Whether we do or we don’t, God is still in charge. It just might not mean what you think it means. 

6 thoughts on “God Is in Charge?

  1. Nathan Baker-Trinity

    Jim, really good and challenging words. I also serve an all-white congregation but who are among the economic victims of globalization. Moreover, being rural, we are often left out of urban/suburban prosperity. My congregation is about 50/50 split on Trump. How do I preach white privilege while also lamenting the economic ruin of our community, a ruin to which Trump gave voice?

  2. Clark Jeanne

    Pastor Jim, As always, I appreciate your thoughtful response to a current event. My response to last night’s election results has been a day of prayer and fasting; a day of remembering my own humble calling to serve those whom God loves. God loves the most vulnerable and he loves those who live in privilege and feel insulated from injustice, but Jesus made it pretty clear that his heart breaks for “the least of these”. They are really going to need our love and care now.

    1. Jim Honig Post author

      Thanks, Jeanne. Your gentleness is a gift to me. You have come to a place that I yearn for but have not yet found. I am still angry and disheartened. And yes, we will stand with the least of these.

  3. Ginny Meyers

    Would you say the same words if Secretary Clinton had won? Neither candidate offered real solutions. Rural America and others supported Trump because he gave hope that the “same old government” would be redirected using the values on which the United States was founded. All people in America need to be heard. Social issues regarding abortion, LGBQT, etc. need to be protected by all of us everyday. God doesn’t choose one “kind of us” over another, but loves us all. Health care, immigration, national security, and support for our military remain issues to be addressed. Our economy doesn’t overshadow the social issues we face, but our country needs to fight unemployment with meaningful jobs for all who are able to work. Can anger and disheartenment lead to hope and positive change? It’s my hope that president elect Donald Trump will surround himself with intelligent, dedicated and compassionate leaders who will serve all the people of the United States of America.

    1. Jim Honig Post author

      Thanks, Ginny. I can always count on you for thoughtful responses and to push me and make me accountable. No, I would not have said the same words. Because she didn’t run the same kind of hate and fear driven campaign that had absolutely no moral compass. Who knows what I would have said had Sec. Clinton won? But I think I would have had a similar sense of dis-ease at the kind of campaign that we just went through and at how uncivil we have become with each other. If you read to the end of the essay, you will note that my call to repentance was not partisan. I said that we all need to put on the sackcloth and ashes, myself included; and we all are complicit in the evil around us. I think it’s time for the church to really be the church and to model and live a different ethic.


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