Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We are Not Alone; We are Helpers of One Another

President Obama has found a new way to enrage the Right. In a recent speech, he said that "I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Since he made those remarks, the internet has become filled with righteous indignation from those who think that the President was trying to steal the thunder of those intrepid brave individuals who own businesses. All of this, of course, is part of the President's plan to turn America into a Marxist utopia by stealth, since we haven't embraced the violent overthrow of our Federal republic sought by the radical Left. If we can't bomb Capitalism out of existence, then we'll disparage it away.

Personally, I have come to a place where I am, I think, ambivalent as to the outcome of this election. I feel that, if we really cared about the spirituality of our government officials, we would be more aggressive about encouraging mature Christians who display the gift of administration (1 Cor 12:28) to seek political office. What I hear from most commentators, however, are more utilitarian questions: "who has the best chance of winning," or "who would be the most supportive of business interests?" This makes sense coming from a secular humanist who was also a conservative, who is, after all, completely focused upon this life, with no thought given to the life to come. For a Christian, however, it should make sense that one would hear some mention of Kingdom values, along with a desire for truth above all other things, even if it has a consequence other than what one might desire in the short term.

I listened to the President's words, I read the transcript of the speech, and I came to the conclusion that either some people were not hearing what Obama was actually saying, or they were determined to put the most malevolent interpretation upon anything he has said or done. Thus, in this case, Obama was saying that rugged individualism, as nice as it might sound to our American sensibilities, is not the way that progress happens today (if it ever was). Instead, we are engaged in a community-wide dance involving owners, workers, and consumers, with government standing by to ensure that no one takes undue advantage over anyone else. I believe this reflects Paul's explanation of the role of Government in Romans 13. In the ideal function of government, it takes no party's side, but acts to endure that injustice does not prevail. Since we don't live in a perfect world, but in a sinful one, no one will behave perfectly, and we will all have our moments of integrity, and our moments of iniquity.

Whether former-Governor Romney is a better businessman than President Obama, my only concern is that he be a just ruler. The U.S. is not a company, existing to make a profit, but a union of citizens, formed to ensure domestic tranquility and promote the common defense. I do not believe that there are many who take literally Pres. Ronald Reagan's rhetorical flourish of "Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem," at least, not to the point where they seek the total elimination of it. In like manner, I don't believe that there are many who think that only government can make the decisions that are necessary to sustain lives of the citizens. We are neither isolationists nor collectivists in an absolute sense. What we are, according to the Scriptures, is a body, consisting of many members, all of whom do our parts, within the real of our sphere, to help one another. That is Christ's prayer to the Father for us in John 17:11, that "they may be one, even as We are one." Those words pertain to the Body of Christ, but just as there is only one Body, so we have but one nation. Just as God desires only the best for us, so we should only desire the best for our nation, and not at the cost of others. As the days crawl slowly to our next election, I hope that we don't get so caught up in the hype of political intrigue and engagement that we lose sight of that. On the day after the polls close, there will still be only one United States of America.

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