Let me start by saying I’m no expert on political issues. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the onslaught of information and opinions about our country’s destiny – whether it comes from the left, the right or the middle! And for the sake of an open and frank exchange, I do have a natural political leaning –so I’m not trying to promote myself as a centrist. However, I do believe that no political ideology we espouse can be perfect, nor can the leaders who implement that ideology be without shortcoming. This year especially, with the financial crisis and the fiery debate about healthcare, I have been trying to make sense of my own convictions and check my own inconsistencies between belief and action. Here are the questions that keep revisiting my thoughts:
1. What can I do to make a difference? I really do wonder what the pressing issues would look like if I just did my part and everyone else did to. And by doing my part, I mean, starting with making wise choices for myself and the people I love, then getting involved in my world in a way that challenges and empowers others to do the same, and then they do the right thing, too. I’m not talking about asking the government to set up a program, system or tax that makes sure we all do the right thing, I’m just dreaming of most of us, who can, doing it because it’s right and we should. I’m not so naive to think all the problems would go away, but I can’t help but believe that the daunting issues of our time might just have less bite to them.
2. What am I hoping/expecting the government to do that really I should be helping the the church do? Here’s a thought that will most definitely get me labeled naive and Pollyannaish – What if the church really took the legacy of the early church in Acts 2 & 4 to heart? I know that it is impossible to duplicate today everything they did to be of one heart and mind then. But, we could certainly ask God to show us what to be of one heart and mind should look like today. I can always be willing to live with arms wide open ready to share with anyone who has need, you know, as if all these earthly things are really not my own anyway – just a loan from my Creator who was kind of hoping I’d share on the playground of life.
3. How can I or my government be of much use to anyone if we’re always weighed down by debt? I have decided that trickle down economics really works! I realize Reagan coined this phrase about less taxes and growing small business, but I think it might be true for the negative side, too. From what I understand, our country has waded into an astronomical amount of debt in the last half century, thanks to decisions that have been made on both sides of the political aisle. And it looks like that mindset of buying with money we don’t yet have or cannot be sure will come has trickled right down into the spending habits of individuals. We are a country of people who are in debt, looking to a government in debt for help and direction. Now, I have a mortgage and I use credit cards, so I’m not trying to be extreme, here. But some very wise people have taught me (yes, I had to learn this lesson) to be honest about what I can afford to owe someone, and to be realistic about what I don’t really NEED! And when I work hard at trying to live out those answers honestly, I can actually be more effective at helping others who have less than me.
4. In the end, what lessons am I teaching my children about how to live? This is the heart of my struggle with these issues. I know they are watching how I respond to the world I live in – when I do the right thing and when I don’t. And they are listening to the opinions I share – when those opinions are thoughtful and edifying, and when they are destructive. So, I’m trying to be aware of the impact of my priorities – spoken and unspoken.
My church has a powerful benediction that we are saying together every week in reference to how the early Christian church in Acts truly let God work through them in a way that transformed their world: Lord, what you did then, do again. What you did through them, do through us. That’s my prayer.