Monday, March 22, 2010

Winners & Losers

The recent health care legislation was a defeat for a certain number of people. Many of those folks are both conservative and Christian. Good people. They try to do the right thing in the right way with the right attitude. And yet a lot of my conservative Christian friends are in a foul mood today. They’re angry. They feel threatened and a healthy number are convinced we’re firmly on the slippery slope leading to socialism. They’re also angry because they lost the fight. Who likes to lose?

And they may be angry with God. After all when you do the right thing in the right way with the right attitude shouldn’t God be on your side and shouldn’t you end up winning?

And for my Christian friends on the other side …well, they are almost giddy with delight. After all, they won.

Winners and losers. Hmmmm.

First, to the winners. Please listen to your more conservative brothers and sisters. Sift through the anger and rhetoric and hear some very clear messages about their worry over too much government, fiscal irresponsibility, and moral ambiguity. Really hear it. Listen. Fear is driving some of this. It may not appear logical and sensible to you but there is real fear disguised by the anger. And underneath it all is a deep concern for the moorings of our country. That can’t be discounted.

When you listen, really listen, you will need to dig deep enough to look at your own personal moorings of faith and how it informs your civic responsibility. Your conservative brothers and sisters are concerned that, at first blush, that you believe in everything and ultimately believe in nothing.

They know you're good at talking about the social dimensions of the gospel but don't think you can speak with any surety about your personal relationship with the Lord. And so that makes your 'liberal' leanings suspect in their eyes.

And to the losers. Will you open your eyes to the possibility that when you open the Scriptures that you’re reading it through the eyes of your political conservatism and not seeing God’s true intent and purpose? Does it ever bother you that some of the most strident voices in our culture belong to people you emulate?

Christians all around the country are happy that health care legislation has been passed. I know you might not believe it because your Christian community only includes those you agree with and keeps out those who think differently (even though they still think biblically). Does that concern you at all?

And now that you’ve lost this battle have you learned anything about how to engage in the next brouhaha …probably immigration?

To both winners and losers.

Social issues are not going away. The bible contains over 2,000 verses dealing with justice, poverty, and marginalization issues. What once was still is.

We are going to be engaged in great battles for the heart and soul of our culture I think. It’s inevitable. Social issues stir people’s hearts. The pocketbook gets involved. Passions explode.

From my vantage point we are citizens of a great country. I’m proud to be an American. Really am. I’m prouder, though, of being a citizen in the kingdom of God. And I believe the Kingdom of God is here and is yet to come (part of the mystery of faith). And as long as it’s here my allegiance is that Kingdom and to that King. That trumps anything else. It’s more important than being on the left or the right or firmly in the center. It supersedes such things.

As I’ve watched our public debates over the past few years I think we’ve lost sight of the fact that we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God which calls us to live differently. The principles guiding the Kingdom of God go beyond political, social, and economic philosophy. They are radical in design and application.

All great earthly kingdoms have come and gone away. Whether it be the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Aztecs or the Romans …whether it’s been the great tribes of Africa or the fiefdoms of the middle ages …greatness has worn thin and faded.

How long will America be great? For a long time I hope. But if history and the biblical narrative is any example some day America will fade. If anything, we’ll be eaten from within by the bickering and hate that is so much at the forefront these days.

In the in between time we, as Kingdom People, need to live, to serve, to lead, to listen and build bridges. In the company of Jesus we need to be involved in the great civic discussions, advancing noble principles, bringing light to dark places and all the while doing it with dignity, civility, and purposefulness. I don’t think we’ve done that well in recent days. We’ve looked undignified, lacked focus, and behaved with only hints of civility. We can do better than that. We must.


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Katy said...

Thanks for taking such a great approach and speaking the truth in love to both "sides" here. I was encouraged to read what you wrote and hope that we can come to a better place in all of these issues as the Church.

I just discovered your blog the other day and was happy I did so. Hope you are doing well.

Mike said...

Thanks Katy. I, too, hope we can come to a better place. Thanks for reading and commenting. It's a great encouragement.



Anonymous said...

The losers are angry and fearful, not logical or sensible, suspicious of liberals, and only associate with Christians of their same political persuasion. They misread scripture and don't know God's true intent, but merely emulate strident voices on their side. But not to worry - they're really good people trying to do the right thing.

The winners need to be understanding of the losers and sift through their irrational ravings to try to understand their worries and concerns.

I suspect you don't mean that to be as condescending as it sounds to me.

Perhaps, just perhaps, there are good points on both sides, misunderstandings on both sides, anger on both sides, fear on both sides, strident voices on both sides. Maybe more humility and civility are needed on both sides. Maybe the victory was nothing more than successful legal gymnastics.

We cannot yet know the eventual benefit or harm to the country, but it seems both are possible, perhaps simultaneously. More people will have some degree of health coverage, but will overall care suffer? Will it drive us into bankruptcy? Frankly, we just don't know. History shows all social programs to be much more costly than originally projected. And often carry unintended negative consequences.

Most people would agree that the health care system needed attention. Myself, I'd rather have taken smaller, deliberate steps toward the goal rather than to have bet the farm.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last commenter. Better to take small steps toward a goal, assessing the effects periodically before taking the next step. This health care bill contains things not related to health care and without regard for what the majority of Americans think is our most critical need right now - jobs and the economy.
To me, the back room deals and bribes contaminate the process, shows a power grab over substance, and is ultimately reckless as a child running across a busy street. Prudence should rule, not ideology.