A Time to Break Down and a Time to Build Up

For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to rip, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-9)

Where do I even start? This last week has been one of the most emotionally charged I can ever remember. Everywhere I go, people are talking about Trump. Facebook has become a litany of despair and outrage and gloating and accusations. What are people supposed to do to respond to… well, everything?

…a time to mourn…

One of the most significant of these many experiences so far has been having a conversation with our friends in fear for their family’s safety. Being from a country run by a dictator, the only point of reference they had for a leader of a country promising to enact laws to target specific groups of people was one of real terror.

They texted us and told us they were considering fleeing the country. Chrissy and I reached out and spoke with them after all our kids were asleep. Chrissy did a better job than I did just sitting with them and showing empathy. I, on the other hand, helped them understand the difference between an American president’s powers within the context of the federal and local governmental structures and the Latin American dictator they knew.

I helped them understand that while things would likely become harder, the nightmare scenario of a van showing up in the middle of the night, them and their children being whisked away with bags over their heads, and their bodies never to be found was not a realistic scenario.

They told their children the next day they had been visited by angels.

I’ve been trying to think about what I can learn as someone who did not support either Trump or Clinton, who grounds my beliefs in the values of Jesus—the fruit of the Spirit, the sermon on the mount, the commandment to love my neighbor as myself—and who has very definitely sided with the marginalized over and against the dominant society.

One of the things that has come to mind is that maybe in our rush to stand with minorities—a truly godly thing to do—perhaps we inadvertently created a new category of marginalized people.

What does it do to a person to be told that the suffering they experience isn’t real because it isn’t as bad as all these other groups? What does it do to label a person as evil because he has other concerns than the ones we hold dear? What does it do to stifle a person’s needs because we think their resentment is misplaced?

I think it creates Trump supporters.

I think we, the champions of the downtrodden, are in part responsible for people turning to the only person who told them their concerns mattered, that their problems were worth talking about, that they weren’t the bad guys.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Trump himself is a cancer spreading through this country, spouting hate and spreading blame by feeding people’s misguided ideas about who causes the problems we face as a nation. The problem is that he sprinkles in some truth with his lies.

And—this is important—the people who voted for Donald Trump… are not Donald Trump.

They are the marginalized majority.

Minorities will need our support now more than at any time since Obama became president. Immigrants, Muslims, anyone doesn’t look like their ancestors came from Western Europe, those who find they’re attracted to someone of the same sex or who feel like their brains and their bodies don’t match when it comes time check a box with a ‘M’ or ‘F.’

All of them will be under attack both in the realm of federal policy and in the daily routine of interacting with other people emboldened to respond with anger and hatred. The fear is real.

All of that is true, and it still remains true that the anger of the marginalized majority is real too.

I have been lucky. I’m a man. I’m a Christian. I’m half white and look entirely white. Culturally, I was raised among the majority and receive all the privileges associated with such an upbringing. That’s not to say life has been a piece of cake in every respect. Finding lucrative employment has been challenging since graduating college, and massive amounts of student debt is a dark cloud hovering over my future.

But I don’t have to worry about someone sexually assaulting me. I don’t have to worry about being shot because of the color of my skin. I don’t have to worry that my family will be ripped away because they pray to the wrong god or don’t have the right paperwork.

Still, there are many others who have the same ‘privileges’ as I do, not having to deal with all these atrocities, but they have seen their income stagnate as the cost of living has skyrocketed. They have been blamed for all the evils befalling minorities when most of them are just trying to get by.

They, right alongside the minorities, have watched the tiniest minority of all—the extremely wealthy—gobble up all the resources and ship jobs away to people with darker skin in far off lands. They don’t want food stamps. They don’t want free healthcare. They don’t want subsidized housing. They don’t want your stuff. They want the dignity of earning what they work for and being able to make something of their life to be proud of.

They are tired. They work hard and see nothing to show for it. They know it’s not their fault, so it must be someone else’s. They’re right.

Someone else tells them he gets it, that their struggle is real, that they have been abandoned by the current system, by the direction the country has been going. Those things are all true. That someone tells them he knows how to fix it, that there is hope, that it doesn’t have to stay this way, that it’s not their fault.

Why wouldn’t they side with him?

They are the marginalized majority. Their cries have risen up to the heavens, and Trump has heard them and promised to deliver them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

The most dangerous lies are the ones we want to believe

Yet, Trump is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has no promised land to offer them. He already owns it and has no plans to share. Clinton would have been Pharaoh to them, so they felt they had no choice but to side with the King of Canaan, a giant prowling in the Promised Land.

I fear for the minorities who have been endangered by the elevation of such a dangerous man. I fear for the marginalized majority who have been made promises no one intended to keep. I fear for a country who has chosen a president out of fear and hope that has no hope to offer and will only make the fear grow. I fear the reign of fear in our land and in our hearts.

For those of us who have a different Hope, may we learn to share it. For those of us who know the Love that casts out all fear, may we learn to give it. For those of us who long for Peace, may we learn to make it.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.”
(Matthew 5:3-12)

May we who are citizens of the Kingdom of God bless the poor, the bereaved, the powerless, the victims of injustice, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the victims of hate, and everyone we meet whom is loved by Jesus.

When it comes to those who seem to have abandoned the way of Jesus in favor of selfish gain or the supremacy of divisiveness, may we remember Matthew 18:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”

Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!”
(Matthew 18:15-22)

When you read this passage, forget what you have been taught about church discipline, and instead, remember how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors…

Until we can behave in light of the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities of Jesus, the greatest commandments… until we can extend love to minorities and majorities alike, until we can seek the good for every one of our American neighbors, until we can repent and forgive our brothers and sisters with whom we disagree and forge unity across all flavors of the church, we are the problem. When we can truly say all those things are true, we will face the World together as one body and one family, and we will see the Kingdom of God.

One thought on “A Time to Break Down and a Time to Build Up

  1. Good Morning Brandon!

    Great read! There is nothing to fear when Christ is Lord. Philippians 4:5b-8 is a Scripture I have memorized and cling to:

    The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

    Love you lots!!!



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