Politics, change & wishes

  • Sumo

In Albury-Wodonga, the weekly free newspapers used to include a column of reflections. They were written by local  ministers, or similar (authors included a local Baha’i leader, as well as someone from the local humanist society branch). I don’t know why they stopped. Equally, I don’t know if they achieved anything!

Cleaning up my computer, I found a few of mine. In the interests of recycling, I will re-release them on this blog.

How did your vote go? Did it count for something? Are you happy with the outcome, do you think you made a contribution?

I write this before the federal election, but am already sure of one thing: no one will be completely satisfied. You might prefer things a little different, or completely different. Either way, our dreams have not been met.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who wanted things different. As a Christian minister in Germany, he opposed Hitler, and during the war was imprisoned and executed. He wrote something very helpful about our desires, what he called ‘wish dreams.’ His claim: we need to give up our wish dreams.

So there’s no point saying, ‘If only our politicians were fully trustworthy.’ Or, ‘If only my family had more patience.’ Or, ‘If only the church was perfect.’ (Bonhoeffer was writing specifically about churches.) We need to get past the ‘wish dream’, and work with the reality before us.

As Bonhoeffer put it, “What may appear weak and trifling to us may appear great and glorious to God.”

God proved that appearances aren’t everything by working through Jesus and his execution on the cross. These look feeble and empty. The unjust execution of a poor Jewish teacher 2000 years ago does not sound impressive. It sounds positively shameful. Yet the Bible says that Jesus mocked this shame and weakness and chose to endure the suffering. Why? Because the cross is real power: it is where God changed the world, offering forgiveness to anyone.

Perhaps you have had wish dreams about God. That he’d do something spectacular and showy. That he would suddenly change everything about life that you don’t like. Forget the wish dreams. The reality is much better. It’s trusting Jesus that changes life. He may appear weak and trifling, but is great and glorious to God.
October 2004