Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do the ends really justify the means?

Do words matter? My grandparents were farmers and intentional followers of Jesus. Words mattered. People mattered. Integrity mattered. Today we are listening to a barrage of political television infomercials. One candidate claims that words matter. Images of grandmother threatening to wash my mouth with soap are invoked. I don't believe she ever carried out that threat, but the threat was enough to know that my words mattered. For those who follow Jesus, the biblical text refernces how we are to speak and act toward our neighbors time and time and time. We are reminded that to care for our neighbors is to care for the things that are near to God. Another candidate, the choice of many people who follow Jesus, hired some of the best character assasins to run his campaign. By their own admonition, this is their job for the next two months. We are told they have adopted these tactics in order to win. After all, the conservative platform holds many of the things near and dear to evangelicals in America. But, I recall growing up in the farmlands of Beaverdam. I recall a hard day of work as a twelve year old, and I remember words from my grandmother - reminding me that I needed to treat people with respect and dignity. She demanded that my life became such - not only my words. She demanded that the very depths of my being be founded upon the belief that other people mattered. My words and actions were not about myself. They needed to be about the Jesus who she followed if I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Today we are faced with two candidates. One may hold to traditional evangelical values in theory. Yet, he's placed winning a campaign ahead of those values. The real values of a person always come through when the going gets tough, when important things are on the line. And one candidate has chosen to respect the life and accomplishments of his opponent. The other has chosen to win by belittling. While we can claim that abortion matters, and it does, the reality exists that McCain can not guarantee that Roe v Wade will be overturned nor can he guarantee that we will be safe nor that we will eradicate evil from the earth. McCain could choose the things immediate to his values. He could choose to recognize his opponent as a brilliant scholar, accomplished law professor, and committed father. Yet, he's chosen toe attack Barack on nearly every front. Don't let it be forgotten that he hired the nation's best character assasins to run his campaign. His current campaign leadership openly admits that their entire goal is to make Barack look badly by attacking him on nearly every front. Perhaps this is politics, but thus far it hasn't been the politics of Barack Obama. The words of Barack Obama and John McCain speak volumes. If we can actually seperate ourselves from ALL of the issues, we experience one man who is running for the presidency with his character intact. His values are intact. His love for people is intact. McCain has sacrificed nearly everything for the purpose of a victory. The end game justifies the maean in his scenario. Words don't really matter. At the end of the day, Obama has shown respect and even admiration for his opponent. He has lived into his call to be a person with integrity -- the same calling we hear in the biblical text -- the same calling of Jesus upon his disciples. At the end of the day, McCain has show disdain and a willingness to say anything for a victory. His words on the campaign fail the biblical text. While we can talk about the issues, a person with integrity should appeal to sincere followers of Jesus. At the same time, we should be taken back by someone who shouts out, "They are only words." I know my Jesus loving grandmother cared about words. Why do they no longer matter to so many of us who claim to follow Jesus? Or at the least, they no longer matter when they come out of the mouth of 'our candidate.' How can we justify such a thing? Perhaps we have come to follow a Jesus who is convenient to our lifestyle, pocketbook, and politics. Words still matter - at least when we claim to be followers of Jesus.

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