Imagine going through a democratic process in your church, offering persons opportunities to participate and speak to issues then passing whatever it is you’re faced with passing and you pass it with a significant majority but the minority who were in opposition decide to lock the doors to your church and dangle the pastor and other leaders over the ledge of the roof unless they change what was just voted on. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? It sounds like sacrilege. It certainly is not how the democratic polity of a congregational church is supposed to work. Were such a thing to happen, we would be outraged.
This just happened to our country. If you are feeling polluted and violated by these past few weeks, it is little wonder. People took what is sacred and used it as an excuse to wreak havoc. It is one thing to pollute, defile or violate something but to do it in the name of love of country or love of God is doubly repulsive.
We are better than this. What should be expected of persons who engage in this kind of behavior? Often there is a misguided effort to “move on” and forgive. Well, forgiveness is certainly a goal and mandate of the Christian life. But so are repentance and restitution. There are plenty of ways to illustrate this principle in scripture but just think of the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. The bible says he was a chief tax collector and wealthy. He invited Jesus to his home and to make the story short, he was converted. What did he do? He gave half of all he had to the poor and he paid back four times what he cheated anyone. Now that is repentance and restitution.
The State is not the Church. I don’t expect its members to be Christians but they should live up to the principles of a democratic government and our constitution. Stop singing hymns in Congress and start governing with wisdom. We don’t need a chaplain praying in the Senate, pray in your homes and places of worship. Just show up and do your duty and govern with wisdom and compassion. If you can’t find the courage to resign after having intentionally inflicted pain and suffering on millions of Americans, then at least repent and stop using these methods to subvert good governance. And by all means, remember the poor. To balance the budget on the backs of the poor is many things but one thing it is not, righteous. Practice justice as you proceed to your meetings and negotiations.
As for the Church, take a look at how these congresspersons behaved and ask yourself how you conduct your own church business. Too often we resemble the world and not Christ’s church. Respect and regard your leaders even as you express your disagreement or difference. President Obama has been called everything in the book. The office of the presidency has been disrespected and defiled by ideologues. Church members are guilty of the same kind of behavior. You may dislike the pastor, but at the very least, a regard and respect for the pastoral office should always be evident. Democracy is a wonderful polity but as we have just witnessed and experienced, it can be used for positively devilish ends. Repentance, Restitution, Respect and Righteousness. These are words that come to my mind at the conclusion of the nation’s near default.