I read a political column earlier this week, and it got me thinking. But not about politics. So, please, lay aside your political biases for a few minutes and I’ll tell you what I am thinking.
The column had to do with Senator Tim Scott withdrawing from the race to be the Republican nominee for president in next year’s election. The columnist acknowledged what many have said about Senator Scott, that he has a sunny disposition, a positive attitude, and is faithful, kind, and good. You may not like his policies and positions, but it is generally agreed that Tim Scott is a nice guy. And that, according to the columnist – his personality, not his policies or positions – was his problem.
“The senator, to borrow the post-liberal lingo of the hour, doesn’t ‘know what time it is,’” the columnist wrote.
It turns out that “knowing what time it is” is a popular phrase in current political discourse. What time it is depends on your priorities, but it implies that certain policies and positions, some personality types, are either demanded or eliminated by what time it is. Apparently, this nasty, divisive time in which we live is not time for nice guys. Our time demands demagogues and ideologues. Times of crisis and confusion require tough guys, not nice guys.
If we knew what time it is, we wouldn’t even consider a nice person, a decent man or woman for president. Niceties may have to be put aside for the sake of the moment. You’ve got to know what time it is.
What time is it?
2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul told his Ephesian friends to make the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Seems like the days are still evil. So how do we make the best use of the time in these evil days? What should we do once we know what time it really is? Is it time for some demagoguery? Hardly. The Apostle says tough times call for singing songs of praise to God, offering thanksgiving, and submitting to one another. (Ephesians 5:15-21)
Some among us know what time it is but choose to live in defiance of that time. Like members of some resistance with a wireless tuned to banned voices, they may prefer to listen to the music and read the poetry of another era, they refuse to adopt contemporary slang and approved vocabulary, they choose orthodoxy over novelty, they decide civility and common cause still matter.
If ours is the time for submitting to demagogues and ideologues, I’d rather not know. But, in fact, I think I know what time it is. The days are evil, and our policy should be to make the most of the time by singing songs of praise to God, offering thanksgiving, and submitting our own desires to the good of the other and of the many.