Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We Can Do Better

Tonight I spent time with friends who I don't know that well. Yet, they are amazingly good people. They care deeply for their fellow persons; thinking and acting for 'others' is what they are about just because they are good people.

Driving home after being with them, I thought of my constant nemesis, the U.S. Congressman who represents my district. He claims to follow the ways of Jesus, and I believe he is a Christian. Yet, his political positions always favor the wealthy, the business owner, and the people who are not marginalized.

I've gone to Christian day school and a great Christian college and then a seminary. Yet, I can't figure out why this particular elected official continues to be against health care that will care for 32 million Americans who have no heath care? He may claim that they didn't' work for it or that they don't deserve it or that we can't afford it. YET, the biblical text doesn't even allow for these questions to be asked.

Jesus clearly states that whatever we do for the least within our communities, whatever we do for our neighbors who can afford nothing, whatever we do for the stranger or alien, is what we do for Jesus Christ. This is a NON-OPTION. We have no choice if we are really about following Jesus Christ.

With much pain, I think we've allowed people to claim they follow Jesus and then let them run off with their political convictions for their own gain. YET, if we are about Jesus, I believe we are called to become people who embrace goodness, kindness, righteousness, justice and mercy. Being this kind of person is what it means to be fully human and to be a reflection of the ways of Jesus.

Anything less is dishonest, pathetic, and a selfish reflection of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

I write the previous sentence because either we ultimately embrace the ways of the God whom we claim to love or we embrace a political system that gets us re-elected and gives us more power for the future of our life.

While I am critical of Representative Bill Huizenga, I do not know him other than the way he votes and choses to side with the far right on virtually every political issue... as if Jesus was a far-right Republican. Anyone serious about the ways of Jesus needs to admit that Jesus did care for the poor and marginalized, and he didn't say it was only the duty of the church to help these people. Instead, it is the duty of everyone who is fully human to care for the poor.

Either we shut up about being followers of Jesus or begin to live into the reality that God has called us to be -- a follower of the most high and the one who says 'I am the God of gods.' Either Jesus people live into this reality or we are making a fool of the one we claim to follow.

I write this thinking of the following: Today a friend of mine who is a director of an orphanage in Kenya flew back home. He departed Gerald R. Ford at 5:30 p.m. Only four years ago I met him, and at the age of retirement he is giving the rest of his life to orphaned children in Kenya. He embodies the best of what it means to be fully human.

My college years and my deep respect for Paul Henry, a former U.S. House Representative who died of brain cancer at too young of an age, calls me to my passion to challenge systems that are broken and people who claim to represent the ways of Jesus only to actually pursue power and position. Paul was an amazing man and leader who lived into his deep convictions.

While I believe Bill Huizenga is a good man, his mixture of passion for party platforms and gaining access to far right donors is more than disturbing. Neither the marginalized of our society are served well nor are the ways of Jesus Christ really honored. We can say the church needs to care for those without health insurance, but we all know that this is an issue even the American churches can not do alone.

We need to find people who are fully human, who support the poorest in our society while also not attacking the business people who are conducting themselves with unquestionable integrity. (These people do exist. I know them, and I can call them by name. Some are Republicans and others Democrats. I think too often they are persuaded by the political parties of their childhoods rather than by their faith and trust in the ways of Jesus.)

I currently live in a U.S. Congressional District that is primary Republican. While it's too late for the 2012 elections, it would be fair and honest to let Representative Huizenga know that values and living into these values really do matter. We in America still love to be represented by people who hold to our values.

Integrity matters, and if we do not see a significant change in the way Bill leads us in D.C., then there will be a change of leadership in his district in November of 2014. Partisan politics are not the way of Jesus regardless if you are a Democrat or Republican. Partisan politics do nothing to make Holland Christian nor West Ottawa nor Hudsonville a better school district nor does this make for a healthier democracy for our nation.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. It's either time for Mr. Huizenga to be a representative for all of us in this district and make decisions that are good for the next hundred years of our nation, or it's time we find a new leader who will embrace the diversity of this country while pursuing goodness, kindness, justice and mercy for us all.

I have no idea if we can get Bill's attention, but it is time that he begins to listen and stop being a echo board for his party's politics. We are smarter that than. We are wiser than that. We care more for the ways of Jesus and for our neighbor than he publicly embraces. Even our grandparents who taught us how to live expected more of our lives and our representatives.

Let it be known that it's time for a change in West Michigan. We expect something more than we have gotten in the first two years of his decision making in Washington. If we can't afford a health system that cares for the poor, then either Jesus was wrong or we didn't believe him in the first place. Either our neighbors matter to us or we are paying lip service to nothing at all.

Join us as we find a better candidate for 2014 regardless if you are Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, black or white, business owner or employee. Coming Soon: BetterthanBill.com

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