My host here has often commented that DC types, and west coasters such as myself, do not really understand the anger that is running through the middle of the country. Well, as I write I am smack dab in the middle of the country and I think he’s right. There is an ugly feedback loop gong on in the nation.
Through a variety of forces, ranging from the self-esteem movement to the entitlement programs of the Obama administration, there is as general lack of ambition in the country. That lack of ambition is fed not only by those entitlement programs, something often discussed by conservatives everywhere, but also by a general feeling of powerlessness. That sense of powerlessness was driven home in the passage of Obamacare despite the election of Scott Brown and is reinforced seemingly daily by an administration that routinely ignores the traditions and courtesies of our government and acts unilaterally. That’s a serious formula for anger.
The unambitious are rewarded by the powerful in a fashion that leaves the hard-working feeling powerless, which destroys the ambition of the hard-working. But hard-working people do not like having their ambition destroyed – hence the anger. The wrong people are “winning.”
No where is the anger more apparent than in the campaign rhetoric here in the middle of the nation. Man these ads are ugly. They are so deeply personal – another reflection of anger seething through the country. There is no point in discussing policy when one feels powerless, there is only the personal.
It is plain that nothing in our politics can fix this – politics is feeding this. Something has to come in from outside the political system if this nasty feedback loop of government action creating resentment which causes more government action, leading to more resentment, is going to be broken.
Yet as hopeless as this seems, there are more hopeless settings. Imagine being a slave – talk about powerlessness. But it is in such a thought that our first hint of to what will break the ugly cycle the nation finds itself in can be found. Consider the advice the Apostle Paul gives to slaves in the first century:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. (Col. 3:22-25)
Paul here reminds us that there is more at play than just the forces in front of our noses. We are urged to maintain our focus on those bigger things. We are urged to keep our eyes on Jesus.
But there is a risk in finding our hope in such other-worldliness and that risk is that we end up merely escaping the ugly loop, not breaking it. Into this issue steps the Apostle Peter:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11)
Peter is telling us that the extent of our other-worldly hope is measured in our actions in this world. We are not to sit here pining for what is to come, but instead we are to work on our character, knowing the mire from which we are trying to rise. We are in our other-worldly hope to be effective and productive.
And it’s nice of these two to give us this perspective and all, but this is a pretty tall order – not real easy to pull off, other-worldly focus and productivity. Fortunately Paul has more to offer:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11-13)
Jesus gives us what we need to do this thing – we just have to figure out how to rely on Him, not the government. There’s your outside force – Jesus. Now wonder the hope killing Obama administration is working so hard to fence religion in, it is the only thing that can break the ugly cycle they are working so hard to reinforce.
Wonderful things Sundays – a chance to go to church and be reminded that there are things beyond politics – things more powerful than politics, things that break the nasty feedback loop that politics has become.
This little bit of wisdom from C.S. Lewis has been making the rounds on Instagram and Facebook of late:
Great words for this time in history. We need to focus on Jesus, and the rest of it will fall in line. This morning – read the Bible, pray, go to church – do what you need to do to focus on Jesus.