Victor Chininin Buele
I could use your time to parse the speech. I could tell you why an America First ideology has great dangers, and why it is the opposite of the message of the carpenter of Nazareth, the Lord of All. I could tell you why the voiceless matter. I could tell you why it’s one thing to protest and another thing to break windows and hide your face and throw things at the police. I could tell you why boasting on either side is not appropriate today.
But instead of that, let’s cut through the distractions.
We all want something to be great again.
The phrase is nothing but pregnant with the kind of rhetoric that makes the mind wonder and go to that place where the psychologists want you to go when they make you close your eyes and think of the beach on a sunny day away from all of your sorrows, away from the rebellious children, the low paying job, the ungrateful spouse. President Trump appropriated it from another time. From a scary time in world history. And while it makes a part of the population increasingly scared, it makes the other section of the population increasingly optimistic. And your perception of how large each population group is ends up depending on what you want it to be.
I would like to argue that everyone wants something to be great again:
President Obama and Mrs. Obama most likely want to see a continuation of President Obama’s work and ideas. They would be longing for progress, for restoration.
President Trump claims to want to see America restored to a former glory, a time of children having a world-class education, manufacturing jobs abounding, a middle-class nirvana.
The man with the Bikers for Trump gear most likely wants to see his life restored to a former glory, the one he had when he didn’t have to be in debt and without meaningful and well-paying employment. He longs for restoration. He longs for opportunity.
The woman who fears the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and who opposes the defunding of Planned Parenthood claims to long for women to have a future and good healthcare, for sex to be fun and free.
The teacher protesting the nomination of Betsy DeVos longs for education to be great. Setting aside whether this teacher is numbed silly by having to teach students how to pass a state test in order for her school district to be accredited and for her to have a job, she longs in her heart to give another human being hope of a good future. After all, why else would she choose a life that pays little for having to deal with people’s messes–buy school supplies while parents buy drugs, comfort children torn apart by divorce and bullying.
The nuclear scientist protesting the potential replacement of a genius running the Department of Energy with the Honorable Rick Perry is longing for a time where the person running an organization actually knows and understand what it is that is being placed under their care.
We all long for something to be great again.
But that something is most definitely not America.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23)
We long for the garden. We want all to be great again.
We long for a righteous ruler, just, loving, and fair. Justice Himself. Love Himself. Mercy Himself. Peace Himself.
We long for human beings to overcome the curse and be transformed into the image of Jesus–working fully and happily, feasting with the fruit of their labor, delighting in the fruit of their love, and knowing all is for the best cause in the world. No fears or tensions.
We long for a time where the bonds of debt and poverty are no more. Where we really live the world President Obama pointed to in The Audacity of Hope, an America, and a world without hyphens. But that as we tragically saw still eludes us for we are without peace.
We long for a time where “every pleasure will be godly and all godliness will be pleasurable” as my pastor likes to say. A time where sex and childbearing are truly enjoyable, godly, and free.
We long for not just our children but for ourselves to really have a challenging and fulfilling education and true enjoyment and excitement about knowing more and more and more. A time where the wisdom of God fills the earth and everyone outdoes one another in applying the marvelous knowledge of the glory of God to all disciplines to bring about true fruitfulness. You may not use those words. But you do long for this.
We long for a time where we keep and tend the garden, as we once were created to do. And so that nothing filthy or unrighteous would ever enter it.
Despite the fall of humanity, our world and our humanity can still be somewhat fruitful and beautiful and hopeful. Multiplication is inescapable. But it is hard because the world is also fallen and broken and filthy. Multiplication is painful. So we groan together in pain, eagerly waiting for redemption. As popular book on education is titled, we are Waiting for Superman.
Think about it. If Trump disgusts you, that’s a great kindness of God to you, to remind you that you do long for the garden. You long for restoration.
If Trump doesn’t disgust you, be careful, for a serial adulterer and immoral man is now the President. And with all the respect due to the office and to his humanity, he is not Jesus. And all the ways in which he falls short must remind us that we also long for restoration.
And the only way to restoration, if Paul was right when writing to the Romans (which he is), is through adoption as sons.
Come, and welcome to Jesus Christ.
He paid the debt. He calls you to be free. He calls you to be great again.
Truly great again.
Every day. One degree of glory to the next. Into the image of Jesus Christ.
And I doubt it comes with a red or a blue hat, a pink shirt or a silent majority sticker. Just saying.