Our world pretends it’s tired of religion. With each generation, the framework of religion is marginalized and seen as a fundamental divider between regressive and progressive thinking. It’s viewed as outdated, irrelevant, and even harmful to the progress of society. It’s happening all over the world. Even now, China is expanding its oppression of religion beyond Christianity, it is forcing Muslim’s into “re-education” camps, and they are dismantling the statues and gardens of Buddhist places of worship.
In America, the dismantling has been ongoing for years in our own “re-education” camps known as public education and universities, where the propaganda machine works overtime to humiliate belief as unscientific and irrational. If that doesn’t work, then one can expect to be marginalized professionally and economically if they are too vocal about their faith. In some places, quoting the bible is now seen as “hate speech.“
While it seems our world is trying to go secular, it’s really not. I believe it’s actually becoming more religious. We would be hard pressed to differentiate the most fundamental theocracies of history from the place Science is given in our society. I’ve spoken at length about the religion of science, but there is an even more popular religion today.
The reigning Religion of our day is politics as a means to power. Without a genuine experience with the transcendent power of God, humanity is left with the vacant capacity for connecting to such power, and thus is corrupted when it finds a version of power within creation rather than from within the Creator.
“…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:25)
We access our political god’s power by dividing the world into groups of two and picking a side. When we do this, we gain the illusion of control, but it is only a vapor, or as Solomon put it, “a chasing after the wind.” Behind the constant feed from our electric propaganda box, is our own vanity. We cozy up to our political channel to validate ourselves. We bow each and every day to the god of pride whenever we appraise our view as the True view. We abdicate to the political gods our power and they give us an identity by differentiating us from our brothers and sisters.
The intoxication of this power to judge puts us “under the influence” of a delusion that we are somehow aligned with truth, goodness, virtue, peace, integrity and purpose. In actuality, our favorite “side” of our illusionary binary is just that, one perspective, of a larger reality for which we can only see our part. We so hate and despise any criticism of our limited view of truth that we vehemently defend and will attack all opposition. We do this as if our life depended on it, because our false life actually does. In fact, the opposition is the only thing which fully validates our position-we are defined by what we are against. Now, as the two ideologies move further to the poles, the religion behind them both gains pernicious power and those who are swept into it’s stream are helplessly blinded by their virtuous hatred of the “other.”
Folks that is religion, albeit a dark one. Religion seems to be an external thing, but it’s roots are deep inside us. The human heart will either covet or fear power when it loses it’s bluetooth signal to the Source. Social power, economic power, racial power, religious power, military power, educational power, and ahh yes, political power. All of these are not actually “sources” of power, they are but “transducers” of power, specifically, the powers of darkness: ego, haughtiness, lust, greed, corruption, manipulation, lies, and pseudonyms.” These are the things each of us says we hate about the other side and so we play along and keep paying homage, we share the elixir of power. If we reject it, the power is turned upon us.
Who will we be without this I.V. drip? Who will we hate if turned off the feed? Where is our hostile mind to go? How could any political party this darkened by hate, ever lead us into a new world?
WAKE UP. It doesn’t need to be like this.
“For he himself (Christ) is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
How can the religious and the Gentile (Greek word: éthen/ heathen) come together? Certainly that gap is wider than republican and democrat. Is this union impossible? Is it accomplished by the the heathen converting to a religion as a hostile regressive mind thinks? Not exactly-(and that is quite an indictment on the history of evangelism). Is it the abolishment of religion as the hostile progressive mind thinks? Not exactly-(and that is quite an indictment on all institutional power). How exactly is the dividing wall of hostility abolished?
The third way. The transcendent perspective. Is it day or night? The third or transcendent perspective reveals its both.
The Good News is that the binary is a trap that can’t help us. The Good News is that we are freed from both religion and irreligion unto a third thing, a wider perspective, a deeper, personal relationship with the truth, as C.S. Lewis puts it, “not as it is for us, but as it actually is.” In Christ, the mystery is that heaven and earth are joined together, no more this or that, but both/and. In Christ, spirit and flesh are joined together, not this or that, but both/and. In Christ, there isn’t “those people” and “us,” not us and them, but both/and. There is no dividing line, and without a dividing line, there can be no hostility.
Have you ever considered that the reason Judaism persecuted the early church was because Christianity was teaching that Yahweh, the God of the Jews was now saving non-Jews (gentiles/heathens) without them having to convert to Judaism? The Christian faith has always based on the fact that God has removed any gap between any person and their Maker. There is no hostility, no wall. Religion, later re-created the “innies” and “outies.” If Christ can do this with the religion of the past, he can do it with the religion of politics.
It’s profoundly healing to discover that at a heart level, no one is more like a democrat, than a republican and vice-versa. Yes, ideologies differ, but the hostile mind is the same, so long as it remains unhealed.
Thus it is the mind which creates the divide. It is the mind that remains hostile. The cure for our world follows the same path. We must transform our minds and re-think (repent). We must realign our focus onto he third thing, the spiritual reality.
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Romans 8:6-7)
“…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,…” (Colossians 1:20-21)
So the very work of Christ has been to join heaven and earth, end religion, and create a new humanity by changing our minds. It wasn’t to start a new religion. Don’t you think our world could really use a new humanity? Our world could really benefit from replacing religion with relationship and exchanging our thirst for creaturely power for that of our Creator.
If you think my conclusions here are “out there” or unrealistic then why don’t you dare to test them. Let’s ask why our mind is hostile toward giving up our power? What exists in our life for which we will not let go or give away? Immediately upon examination, we discover the scripture to know us better than we know ourselves. And therein lies the hope of the world. A path of freedom and peace has always been laid before us. There remains a narrow path with a turnstile so constricted that we can take nothing with us as we enter it.
May we finally come to lay every attachment down, open our hands completely, forsake our illusions of power, and usher in the new world. I pray we do this soul work before it is too late.