The Shutdown – What’s a Christian to Do?

We the PeopleThe other day, my South African colleague Pieter asked what I thought about the US Government shutdown.

“I’m so mad, I can’t even talk about it,” I said, prior to talking about it and ruining my own morning.

Like many, I’m frustrated by my helplessness. So my standard response is to roll my eyes, turn off the news and go vacuum algae from my pool. And maybe that’s a dodge of my responsibility to the Republic, but what else can I do?

  • Excoriate President Obama on Facebook?
  • Pray that God will smite House Republicans?
  • Holler “they’re all crooks in Washington” and pour another drink?

Really? Does any of that help? Or does it exhibit the same spirit of division, selfishness and spite that’s got Washington balled up? If our default response is boorish and ugly and our legislators are plucked from our pool, why are we surprised when they are boorish and ugly? If the average American has $15,000 in credit card debt why are we surprised Congress can’t balance the budget? They are us, just with more money and better hair.

Later that morning, Stefan, one of our fiercest Mercy Ship warriors, was teaching on prayer. He had us look up Ezekiel 22:28-30

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I (The Lord) sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

Wait, is Ezekiel suggesting I stand before God on behalf of the ringmasters in Washington? Does he mean I should pray for people I won’t even vote for? Worse, do I have to obey Jesus, and love and pray for my “enemies” even when we’re talking about the debt ceiling and Obamacare? (insert scream here)

All as a protective measure over my nation? Hmmm.

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...Sometimes I wonder if the shutdown will chasten us as a people, convince us that we’re not as clever as we think. Better yet, will it spark a revolution whereby Americans finally snap out of it and reject this corporate-sponsored demagoguery. Whoever can teach this nation to cooperate again?

Yesterday, Pieter reminded us that former South African President Nelson Mandela, after 27 years in prison, not only refused to exact revenge on his enemies, but halted negotiations until all 11 South African tribes were seated at the table. It was reconciliation, not revenge, that made Mandela a hero. Oh but how quaint, who thinks like that anymore?

Um, Jesus does.

Jesus is in the reconciliation business (IICor 5:18-19, Romans 5:10, Colo 1:20-21) and since many of our legislators call themselves Christians, where are the attempts at reconciliation? Or are US problems just more complicated than Mandela’s were in South Africa?

I have paid attention and listened but they have not spoken rightly: no man relents of his evil saying, What have I done? Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle. Jeremiah 8:6

So far this plunge has led the nation into a tar pit of acrimony and revenge. Maybe we ought to try something different, like dropping to our knees to acknowledge the one called Alpha and Omega, and shutting our smart mouths except to say,

“Lord. We don’t know what we’re doing. Please help. Thank You.”

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