Clowns and Jokers
By Clayton Adams “Stuck in the Middle You” is the title of a song published in 1972 by the band, Stealers Wheel. One verse states; “Yes, I'm stuck in the middle with you, And I'm wondering what it is I should do It's so hard to keep this smile from my face, Losing control, and I'm all over the place Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
It is a fun song and one that expresses a strong feeling that our American culture is a three-ring circus complete with all the side shows, oddities and even the macabre.
Clowns are the folks who dress up and exaggerate their every word, gesture and expression. Clowns make us laugh but they can be scary too. Jokers are the folks who want to be taken seriously but through their thoughts expressed in words and deeds they prove what we already know, we cannot take them seriously.
I believe our nation is the greatest in all of human history but it is being reduced to rubble and soon it will be in the ash heap of once great nations but now found only in history books. In the words of Barry McGuire, what has brought us to “the edge of destruction”?
It has been said, “All politics are local.” Meaning if you want to change things nationally start with the local issues. A short list of the local issues include; Crime, jobs, illegitimate birth rate, HIV/AIDS infection, racial differences, access to healthcare, quality education and don't forget loneliness and despair. Yes, loneliness and despair. The greatest need is the salvation of the human spirit but don't forget loneliness and despair. Many people deal with loneliness everyday. Loneliness drives a person to make poor choices, increases stress and anxiety and makes living life depressing. Seniors, particularly those who have lost a spouse live alone in agonizing loneliness. Those ostracized by their children and forgotten by grandchildren are extremely lonely and are in despair.
Young people are in despair. They often look around them and see the despair in their lives and don't know what to do about their despair and many times cannot do anything about their despair. Many live in generational poverty and lack. Our government has spent more than fifty trillion dollars “fixing” poverty. But no matter how much is spent on the physical without changing the spiritual nothing really changes except the dressing.
For 2016, Americans spent more than $42 billions dollars on anxiety medicines alone! Dig through the mountain of studies and data, one discovers that we are a sick nation; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and the three-ring circus of our government is not doing what is needed, but then, neither are churches.
As a pastor of a predominantly “white” church in the predominantly “black” town of Earle, I am reminded every Sunday as I stand before the congregation that our work is not finished and sometimes I wonder if we as a church and I as an individual are truly chipping away at these local issues. Every Christian is to be engaged in our Saviors work and part of this work is the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18) Pastoring a church in a rural, economically depressed and spiritually oppressed community was not my first choice in human endeavors yet I could not turn away from God calling me to Earle. Living in Earle has caused me to have greater compassion for others. I have a desire to understand those who are different than me. I have expanded my level of patience for others and the Lord knows I need much more patience. I am learning to be more gracious, merciful, kind and to withhold judgment of others. Humans are wretched and terribly bad judges because we don't know the human heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) We don't even know our own heart. (Jeremiah 17:9) If it is true that all politics are “local” then I want to be a part of the local work, even if its difficult work. The issues are overwhelming and they are greater than a city mayor, county judge, governor, president or a pastor. Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul commanded Believers to pray for our leaders. We have a choice in whom we cast our vote for yet we have no choice but to pray for every leader no matter their party, lifestyle, hue of skin or faith practices. We are commanded to pray for all our leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-3) Through local issues we are able to influence national and even world issues, because ultimately all issues are local issues. As followers of and Believers in Jesus the Christ, do we not have the power of Christ in our hands and minds to help change one person at a time? We can remove the loneliness of others by using our time, talent, treasure, touch and our attention. We can replace despair with fellowship.
As the apostle Paul stated; “… this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” I too, want to press on.
Will you press on?
Clayton Adams is pastor at Earle First Assembly of God. You can e- mail him at cpalaa@ yahoo. com, or find Earle First Assembly on Facebook.
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