BLOG 5/15/2016. POSITIVE CHARACTER IN A TOXIC CULTURE
In this present toxic political campaign, so replete with bombast, negative hyperbole about one’s opponents, and equally self-promoting hyperbole and dishonesty about oneself, … it is refreshing to have, also, in the news those remarkable persons who demonstrate those characteristics of humility, generosity, concern for others, and graciousness even while accomplishing great feats in their various fields.
I think, off-hand, of Lin-Manuel Miranda who both wrote and plays the lead in the record setting Broadway play Hamilton. Those we know him and work with him in the cast are unanimous in commenting on how generous he is and how solicitous of the welfare of all of his cast and staff. He is obviously a genius, but to watch him and to listen to the affection of all who associate with him is so refreshing. Or, there is the basketball super-star Steph Currie, who has, as has been said, redefined basketball by demolishing previous records and yet who has a very exemplary personal life and Christian faith, … all the while being very much a team player with notable humor, self-effacing and appreciated by his opponents, while in the glare of the inescapable engagements with the media, and also notable for his humor and love of family.
Others would bring up the example of Justin Spieth, who is a remarkably gifted golfer, who likewise has a heart filled with charity, and refuses to be arrogant about his skills, and is modest in his life amidst its professional setbacks and accomplishments. I keep in my own diary the descriptions of the late Irish poet and Nobel Award winner, Seamus Heaney, who when he died was every Irishman’s love, and whose character was described in four words by the Dublin newspaper: warmth, humor, caring, and courtesy.
Those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ can joyously celebrate such persons and use them as models—not because they are/are not fellow believers, but because they display those characteristics that are what God’s New Humanity people are to incarnate. Just stop and think: when Jesus’s followers were jockeying for who would be the greatest in his kingdom, Jesus’ principle was that those in his kingdom who would be great would be those where were servants of all. He himself, is described by the apostle as one, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant—and all of God’s people are encouraged to have that mind in ourselves.
Yes, to be sure, we are citizens of this particular nation and have a responsibility to be engaged in its quest for the common welfare of all of its citizens. But this takes place in the reality of the political arena often inhabited by many with ‘anything but’ righteous agendas, so that we have to choose among imperfects. But more primarily we are citizens of God’s holy nation, his peculiar people and so are to be bonded with those from every nation and tongue and people as we, in that diversity, incarnate the divine nature. We are to be the veritable incarnations of the Sermon on the Mount and of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. We are those who wear righteousness/justice as a breastplate, and who are given the ministry of being reconcilers, since we ourselves have been reconciled to God. We wear on our feet as shoes the readiness of the gospel of peace. Yes, we are God’s New Humanity, and we walk to a different drummer as we are the display of God’s divine nature. What does that look like? It looks like you and like me living as aliens and exiles in a culture that is to a greater or lesser degree seeking autonomy from God, and so which puts us always in tension, in missionary confrontation, with our context.
So it’s helpful to have those persons who exemplify the character and qualities of the Kingdom of God (whether they know it or not) such as Miranda, Spieth, Currie, and Heaney. May God give you and me grace to be such models of God’s refreshing good purpose for humankind. …and if you find these Blogs helpful, recommend them to your friends.