During the presidential debate last week, the moderator, Jim Lehrer, had a hard time interrupting the President and Gov. Romney. The candidates squared off, faced the cameras, and tried to convince you and me why they should get our votes. In all the talk about debt, taxes, and the role of the federal government, both candidates proved themselves against Lehrer's weak attempts at interruptions. In an article last week I posited that, much like Lehrer, we too have a difficult time interrupting. We have chugged along with our two party system assuming that a solution to our political problems will be either a Democrat or a Republican. We are unwilling to interrupt our modern political process.
In his book, Heretics, G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes.The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." Those words still ring true over a century later.
But the stand-off between Republican and Democrat, Progressive and Conservative, goes much deeper--in fact it is a heart-matter. We tell ourselves, "if only I do X, then all will be well." This is the myth of progress at work in our hearts. And when it doesn't work, when the striving fails to deliver, we tell ourselves that we can fix it, and do everything we can to keep ourselves from doing the only necessary thing: interrupt. Or, as the Christian Scriptures put it: repent.
The message that Jesus preached was, "repent, for the Kingdom of God is near." That is the message that the world needed to hear 2000 years ago, and it is the message that we need to hear today.
So, is there a third way in American politics? If there is, it must start with repentance.
So whether you identify yourself as a Progressive or a Conservative, Democrat or Republican, the way forward must begin with a step back. Jesus put it this way, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). The paradox of true progress is found in every seed, and is the heart of the Gospel. Jesus is the true seed who died, and in his resurrection bears much fruit. As we die to ourselves (and our political agendas) through our repentance, we will bring the hope of the resurrection to bear in our hearts...and perhaps maybe even in our politics.