In 1996 the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, expressed his concern of overly valued assets in the economy calling it “irrational exuberance,” as he alluded primarily to the housing market. Financial institutions did not heed the call for caution and in 2008 our markets fell into the “Great Recession,” the biggest loss since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Assets and portfolios dropped instantly over 40% as panic and hysteria ensued in the marketplace. I remember it intimately as we were fully invested in equities and looking at selling our home that dropped precipitously in value. So did everyone else’s home value, creating a banking crisis for which we had a Federal bailout of $1Trillion. Of course, we the taxpayers paid for it all! There was a rebound affect of what we might call irrational hatred for those who had allowed it to happen, even as many experts knew of the inevitable.
Some 2000 years earlier Jesus walked the known world preaching the “Good News” of peace, hope and healing through His love. He preached the Kingdom of God and that He was the prophesied Messiah of the all people. Christmas, as His birth has become known, began to be a swear word amongst the religious elite at the time. Their positions and power were threatened by the concept of a broader chosen generation and “royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This was a big-time threat to the establishment. Some thought He would overthrow Rome; others received Him as Savior and Lord. But He knew that He would have to die a gruesome death on the cross because He was a “stumbling block” rejected, even though He was and is the “Cornerstone.” Hatred for Jesus was arising to a fever pitch as assassination attempts failed, because it was not yet His time. God in Christ Jesus would and does control all events and time.
He would be arrested and be scorned and flogged. Pontius Pilot who found Him innocent was too weak to follow the law and let the organized crowd mania reign as they responded to his question, saying,“Crucify him,” and they did. Yes, they took His blood and so would we all, because all of our sins made it essential that Jesus die a substitutionary death for us all on the cross so that we might have peace with God. Our sins and the religious ones’ hatred killed the Messiah. But we know the rest of the story. On Easter morning, three days later, He arose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven to rule and reign over all the earth.
So I come to today and the post-election sentiment in our country. Irrational exuberance by many has turned to exuberant and even irrational hatred by many. It is a concept that seems to be flowing like in the days of irrational exuberance before the collapse of financial markets in 2008. “It is an intense feeling of opposition against an object for which there is no rational explanation” (Urban Dictionary). I see an unhinging of people, angry that they did not get what they wanted. I see a crowd mentality that exudes hatred. I believe that it is irrational and based in fear. “Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration” (Urban Dictionary). It seems that a hatred that was present from the right for former President Obama, even though his election was accepted, has now been replaced by an exuberant and irrational hatred for President Trump. He was legally elected to represent our nation, something that seems to have been lost on many. Division is one thing, hatred and organized efforts to destroy a presidency and therefore perhaps our nation by extension is another. This is not only civil disobedience but chaos. I turn to the Bible, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15). I see a strong admonition that battling to get our own way is not only selfish, but will lead to the destruction of all.
I wonder if Russian President Putin is amused at the conflict as it can play into his hands for an emerging new Soviet Union. Do not be ignorant, “ Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This is not some ridiculous thought. This is founded in Scripture for those who do battle. Stay alert, Scripture also says stand firm and resist for even if we suffer for a little while, Christ Jesus will establish, strengthen and settle us.
This is the Lenten Season, a time for repentance, quiet meditation and the humbling of ourselves. This is the time of the pilgrimage to the cross for believers. May we heed Jesus’ admonition as He washed the disciples feet. He said, “Now that I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have left you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than His master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:14-17).
May we all turn from our own destruction before it is too late, and turn to the truth of gospel, even if we don’t yet believe it. It is “The way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).