What Is It Going to Take? As In All Things, The Love of Jesus

This is the official website for the “Interim Government for the Confederate States of America.”

http://csa.systekproof.com/?page_id=35

The people who run this website regard the states of the former Confederate States of America (CSA), plus Kentucky and Missouri, as currently enduring a military occupation by the United States of America. In their minds, the CSA never surrendered, nor was it possible for it to surrender. Their goal is simple: to restore the Confederate States of America as a functioning government under the CSA Constitution of 1861. From the Introduction:

“It is important to note that the Interim Government for the Confederate States of America is an assembly of Citizens from various occupied Confederate States, all with the desire to restore the Confederate States of America in accordance with the constitutions of the several Confederate States and the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.”

To absolutely no one’s surprise, the CSA Constitution of 1861, which these people hope to restore to full function, safeguarded the institution of slavery. Indeed, according to the CSA Constitution, it was impossible for the CSA government to outlaw slavery:

“No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” (Article 1 Section 9(4)).

Presumably, should these people achieve their goal of restoring to full function the government of the CSA, they would re-institute “the right of property in negro slaves” in those states. After all, they clearly say that their goal is to restore to full function the government of the CSA under the 1861 Constitution of the CSA, and the 1861 Constitution of the CSA safeguards the “right of property in negro slaves.” Any claim, therefore, that these people merely want to live their lives peaceably in their own white “ethno state” is a lie.

It would be easy to dismiss these people as lunatics engaging in a futile fantasy. Certainly, they’re wasting their time. Like video game addicts, they are obsessed in creating and living in a world of their own creation that will never see the light of day.

The only problem is that, while video game addicts and aficionados rarely take their enthusiasms out into the real world for the purpose of impacting people in the real world, some of these CSA fantasists do. They have become emboldened by the administration of Donald Trump. Despite Trump’s recent condemnation of hate groups based on racism, they have found in his previous statements against Muslims and immigrants reason to think they have a confrere in the White House. Liberals, on the other hand, in the tradition of Rahm Emmanuel, who intended never to let a crisis go to waste, will doubtless exploit all of this to push their own divisive agenda based on identity and gender politics and the suppression of free speech. There are credible reports from a New York Times journalist that Antifa activists were present in Charlottesville and were acting to incite the situation. Needless to say, it doesn’t take much to incite Nazis and white supremacists.

Where will it end? I’m not sure. I’m quite sure it won’t end anytime soon for, calls for unity and dialog notwithstanding, there are too many people in important positions who have no desire for the tensions and divisions to end, because they hope to exploit the tensions and divisions for their personal political power.

This is where we come in, and by “we” I mean the American people. We are the people who go to our jobs everyday, who interact with each other every day, who invest our time, talent and treasure in our places of worship and in our communities and in our families. We cannot take our cues from our leaders, right or left, for, as I said, there are too many of them who wish to exploit the tensions and divisions rather than heal them. It’s up to us, then, to live lives worthy of God, and to consciously treat our neighbor with the love to which God calls us.

And, who is our neighbor? When Jesus was asked this question, He responded by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. Today, we lose much of the impact of this story because we don’t understand the cultural, social and political context in which it was first told.

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to a group of Jews living in Judea. Judean Jews were the descendants of those who had suffered the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century BC. Babylon had conquered Palestine and forced the learned and economically successful classes of Jews to exile in Babylon, where they remained in captivity for some 70 years. Left behind in Palestine were the less learned and less economically successful Jews. Being left without their religious leaders and scholars, they were forced to “wing-it,” if you will, when it came to public worship and private spirituality. Eventually, Persia conquered Palestine and the Jews in Babylon were freed to return to their homelands. When these Jews returned to Palestine after seven decades, they found that the Jews left behind had developed their own way of worshipping God. They demanded that these ways be abandoned in favor of what they regarded as the true worship, based on the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Jews who had been left behind resisted. Eventually, two forms of Judaism took shape and adherents of each staked out their separate territories. The Jews who had returned from exile dominated the regions of Judea and Galilee, while the Jews who had been left behind in Palestine during the years of exile dominated Samaria and became known as “Samaritans.” Now, if you look on a map, you’ll see that Judea and Galilee are in the southern and northern extremes of Palestine, respectively, while Samaria is in the middle, splitting the difference. The tensions and hatred between the two groups was so high that Judean and Galilean Jews would not even traverse through Samaria. If a Galilean Jew wanted to travel to Jerusalem for the Passover, for instance, he would cross over to the Trans-Jordan (that part of Palestine on the east bank of the Jordan River) and then re-cross into Judea, avoiding Samaria entirely. Some of this tension is seen in the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well, who is a Samaritan, in the 4th chapter of the Gospel According to John.

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan in response to the question “Who is my neighbor?” proposed by a scholar of the law. This was a man steeped in the Mosaic tradition, who would have been especially in tune with the differences between Jew and Samaritan, and who would have regarded the Samaritans as heretics who had found disfavor with God. Even still, Jesus didn’t hesitate to make the protagonist of his story a Samaritan, even over and against a Jewish priest and a Levite. To his credit, the scholar could not deny that it was the Good Samaritan who acted as a neighbor to the man who was beaten and robbed.

In order to understand the full impact of Jesus’ story, it might be necessary to make it more contemporary. The circumstances were no less controversial then than they would be today were Jesus telling this story to a group of white supremacist where the protagonist is an Antifa activist, or were Jesus telling this story to a group of Antifa activists where the protagonist is a white supremacist. The point is, there is no room for hate for those who hope in Jesus, even hatred of one’s enemies. Love your enemies is not a slogan for Jesus. If we cannot love our enemies, we are not capable of loving and following Jesus, for Jesus loved and prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross.

How radical is the love of Jesus and the mercy of God!

So, while I’m saddened and disappointed that our president couldn’t find it within himself to condemn outright white supremacists until he was pressured into doing so two days later, and I certainly don’t regard him as a Nazi or neo-Confederate sympathizer, I never really looked to this president or any other to deal effectively with these horrors. I really don’t believe our political or social leaders are going to find a solution to the divisions among people in this country. I don’t believe they have the tools to do so.

The only thing that will heal these wounds is the love of Jesus lived out in the ordinary circumstances of daily living by ordinary people. It will mean acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. It will mean our forgiving those who have hurt us, and our hearts being converted to loving those we now hate.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

 

 

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