American presidential elections are embarrassing to say the least. A friend recently asked me about candidates, “can’t we do better than what we have?” I answered, “No, we can’t. We are not any better.” He was surprised by my answer. But I have been in full blown Jeremiah mode recently. And like the weeping prophet, I do not understand why I see what other people can’t. It is really simple. We receive what we value as people. I once agreed with Jim Hightower, “if God intended us to vote, he would have given us candidates.” That is not correct. We have the candidates we want and deserve.
You Don’t Vote For King
Monty Python and The Holy Grail is one of my favorite films. King Arthur’s reply to the peasant who complains she didn’t vote for him expresses my frustration. “You don’t vote for King!” I want to scream to my fellow citizens, “Stop acting like you are voting for a King, or a Messiah!” Jeremiah saw a few Kings come and go. Scholars say he considered Josiah the last great King. I don’t agree. But that is another topic.
Jeremiah believes that there is only one King for his people. He Who Is, the one whose name is not easily uttered, the God of Israel is the True King according to Jeremiah. The prophet longs for the day he believes cannot arrive. The day a true king will restore Israel. Jeremiah hopes for such a day.
Why Jeremiah Weeps
Jeremiah witnesses the power of positive thinking destroy the kingdom, the city, the temple, and the people. The book bearing his name demonstrates a consistency on the part of the people to ignore his warnings. King Jehoiakim (Yahweh sets up) destroys the scroll of Jeremiah’s (Yahweh exalts) prophecies. No one listens to him.
Jeremiah grieves for his people – his congregation. He knows they are willing to destroy him on the way to their own destruction. But he loves the people who hate him that much. How does he do that? What does it mean for God to call a prophet? What does that call do to the prophet? He is the son of a priest. But he is not a priest himself. From his perspective the call changed his life. But, the 1st chapter of the book makes it clear the call clarifies the purpose of his life.
Coming Back To America
I know it’s a radical idea. But Jehoiakim as King reflected the people. And the people reflected him. What if the same is happening in America? I know many would answer, “Yes. But not me. I am different.” American’s collectivize our sin and individualize our righteousness. Everyone is bad. I am not. A logical person would know better. Our collectivized sin is the sum of our individual righteousness.
Consider the plethora of tell-all books around presidential campaigns. I may can oppose the ideas, platform, and policy beliefs of a person without knowing the lurid details of that person’s past. I do not need gossip to make my decision. Or do I? What do I put forward about a candidate? Do I resort to name calling? Do I look down on the supporters of the other party? What does such a desire say about me?
I believe this is the reason Old Testament heroes write prayers of repentance with the word “we” at the beginning instead of the word “they.”
Growth For This Modern Jeremiah
George Lucas said, “evil people don’t know they are evil.” He said this in an interview about Revenge of the Sith. I would add that evil people often consider themselves righteous. The actions we take say more about our real motives than we think.
Our politics put the “dis” is discourse. I also see the same kind of hate-filled actions taking place in churches. Lies are told about people. I have had it happen to me on occasion. The temptation to self-justification is very strong. And so, I try to lay a guard on my responses. The missed opportunities to listen and to be listened to are a source of grief. I watch people self-destruct. I am only now learning to grieve rather than gloat.