What Is Going to Happen?


Here are my thoughts for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, 26 September 2010. The Scriptures for this Sunday are Jeremiah 32: 1 – 3, 6 – 15; 1 Timothy 6: 6 – 19; and Luke 16: 19 – 31.

———————————————————————————————

I will tell you up front that there is a great deal of politics in this particular piece. The more I hear from the political circus that so dominates our lives today, the more I would just as soon go somewhere up into the hills and hide. I mean there is some precedent for that. The First Battle of Bull Run (as you Yankees called it) was fought on Wilmer McLean’s farm just outside Manassas, Virginia. For a number of reasons, including a desire to keep his family safe, McLean moved to Appomattox. And those that remember their history know that it was at his house that General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, thus ending the Civil War (or depending on your history books, the “War of the Rebellion”). So, maybe that’s not a good idea. (I have heard a similar story about someone who moved from France to Guadalcanal but can’t find a reference to it.)

But then again, maybe that’s what I should do. After all, consider what Jeremiah did. He bought some land in anticipation of the restoration of the people, despite the fact that the people had rebuked him and even thrown him in jail for daring to even suggest that they might be wrong.

I hear God’s name evoked at practically every political event and I hear how so many of the candidates running for office are devout, possibly born-again Christians. But I hear what they are saying and what they desire and I have to wonder if they even know what it means to be a Christian. Now, it is entirely possible that I do not know what it means to be a Christian but I hope that I am working on that.

If this nation was truly a Christian nation or one that held to Christian values (which seem to be the “buzz words” for many politicians today), then there would be no hunger in this nation, there would be adequate and proper healthcare for all, there would be adequate housing for all, there would be a living wage instead of a minimum wage, and each person would have equal standing in society. Yet, when I look at the values of this country, it seems that we want to keep all that we earn for ourselves, we have no desire to help others in need (except when we think it will validate our ticket into heaven), and we seek to justify making some people lower-class citizens because of their race, their sexuality, their culture, their religion, or origin. We have tried very hard to make sure that war was justifiable in all cases and no matter what the case. Our politicians, no matter what party, always seem to end their speeches and campaign rhetoric with a resounding “God Bless America!” But how can God bless this country or any country or the people of this planet when more money is spent on weapons and destruction or on selfish interests than on insuring that all the people, no matter who they are, have enough resources to make a living (not just survive but live).

What is Paul telling Timothy in the portion of that first letter that is the second lesson for today, “If we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough?” How are we to respond to this/ How are to respond when it is our pursuit of the good life for one instead of for all that is leading us to a path of total destruction?

When the rich man dies in the Gospel reading for today, he has the opportunity to see what he missed. He also finds out that all that he had is meaningless because he ignored the one man by his door. And he also found out that he cannot warn others of his fate. He had the opportunity to change his life and he missed it; he had the opportunity to help others and he missed it. And now he pays the price.

I hear all these people today who speak out loudly and proudly that they are good Christians; yet there actions speak of other beliefs, of other gods. I hear all these people who speak of wanting it all for themselves and it doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor. The poor want what the rich have because society has told them that is what they should have; the rich don’t want to give it away.

I know that there is a lot being said today that because we live in a democracy, we can earn as much as we can. No one, not even John Wesley would argue against that idea. But, to paraphrase what John Wesley say, don’t earn your money on the backs of the labor class. And having earned all you can, save all you can and then give all you can. There is a responsibility that comes with being a Christian to care for each other and what I see happening is that people today do not want that responsibility. They want to earn as much as they can, they do not want to pay for quality products so that they can keep all they can, and then they complain when they have to pay for the responsibilities that come with the privileges.

Politically, I would say that we truly and seriously need to think about a living wage, not the minimum wage as the standard for employment. I know that there are some who are going to say that you can’t do that. But who are the loudest to complain? Are they not the ones who earn more in one year than their workers earn in a lifetime? I know that there are those who will seek to scam the system; if I read Acts correctly, there were people who tried to do the same thing 2000 years ago. And in the Book of Acts, we read that they kicked out of the community, a community of believers who banded together for the common good.

It would be nice to run away, to run off into the hills and hide. But that won’t prevent the destruction that is coming. Jeremiah prophesized and was jailed for his words and actions. But in the end, his words and actions were shown to be true. And he bought the property because he knew that God would redeem His people, even for all that they had done.

It is the same for us. We have the opportunity, we see the signs and we can make a change. We can still be known as Christians if we first repent of our past life and accept Christ. Hear the words that Christ spoke to us two thousand years ago; heed the warning and repent. Begin anew to build the world that will be the world for all people.

What is going to happen in the coming days? I wish I knew. What I see is not what I want.

What I know today is that the solution is not found in the present system. It is not found in a system which allows us to keep all that we have and not take care of the others. It will not be found if all we say is that we are Christians; those words ring so hollow these days.

But it can be done if the words that said are turned into actions. It is all about what we do with the words that we say; if we just say the words and do nothing; then nothing will happen. But all through our history, those who have acted on the words in this world have made a change. We have that opportunity today, we have the opportunity to ensure that this world goes on. The question still remains, what is going to happen?

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “What Is Going to Happen?

  1. Clearly a statist position. One who believes the state should take care of everyone’s needs. This type of class warfare only serves to further polarize the debate. Defense spending is essential to our nation’s welfare as we have assumed global responsibilites. While defense may be the largest item in the discretionary budget we spend far more in social security, medicare and medicaid. A statement such as “They want to earn as much as they can, they do not want to pay for quality products so that they can keep all they can, and then they complain when they have to pay for the responsibilities that come with the privileges.” is a sweeping generalization that has no basis in fact. It belongs in the category as claiming that the poor deserve to be poor because they are lazy. What will happen in the coming days? I am hoping for reduced taxes which will generate more jobs and reduced government spending which will free up more capital for even more jobs. Taxes are a function of the state. Charity is a characteristic of a committed Christian. Do not confuse the two.

  2. I wanted to add some thoughts that were provided by my minister in her sermon this past Sunday. The parable in Luke that was the Gospel reading for this Sunday is considered the most important parable that Jesus told.

    It is the only parable where the poor man, Lazarus, is named and the rich man is nameless. This is quite in contrast to our society (and probably throughout time) where we try to make the poor the nameless ones so that we can easily forget them. And we glorify and “worship” the rich and powerful.

  3. Kevin
    I will agree with your last statements – “Taxes are a function of the state and charity is a characteristic of a committed Christian.” We will have to disagree with the rest.

    When you compare military spending with social spending, there are least three groups that would say that we spend more in the military category than we do in the social category.

    http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm

    http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

    http://education-portal.com/articles/Iraq_War_Spending_vs._Education_Spending.html

    I am far from a proponent of the state as the instrument for taking care of the needs of the individual. But what happens when the ability of the individuals is not sufficient to handle the situation? That is what we are facing at this point.

    Taxes may be a function of the state but they are part of the price that we pay to have some sort of organization. We could do away with all of the government functions but how would we deal with roads and other services, how would we deal with national defense? Sooner or later, we have to have a way to pay for the services. Then what happens? There are going to be people who demand such services but don’t want to pay the prices involved. And more times than not, it is the rich who complain the loudest and the longest.
    And it is interesting to note that while we spend so much money on the defense (regardless of its ranking), any time we have to cut such spending, it is on the veterans. We willingly send our young people off to war but we cast them aside when they come home.

    As to the notion that lowering taxes will generate more jobs and reduced government spending will free up more capital for more jobs, I am still waiting. That has been the argument since the mid- 1980’s and it hasn’t worked yet. Each year the gap between the rich/upper class and the other people in this country keeps getting bigger and the rich feel that it isn’t big enough.

    I would never say that the poor are poor because they are lazy but that seems to be a statement that many who are rich do say. First, it is rather Calvinistic to say so and it continues a thought that was expressed in the Bible before Christ that those who are poor are so because they have sinned. This was one of the issues that Wesley faced in the 18th century where one’s riches are the result of one’s righteous and worthy life. It is an idea that is still sadly prevalent today.

    If we are part of an organization, be it a state or some sort of commune, we are committed to the common good of all, not just a few. Unfortunately, the rich don’t want to be a part of the whole. And I am not the only one who is saying that.

    The other point goes to the issue of the committed Christian. It would be nice if all those who say they are Christian were in fact Christian. Then this would be a meaningless discussion. But the fact of the matter is that many who say they are Christians are not committed to the task at hand and are not willing to share as the early Christians did. And that more than anything is what bothers me the most and that is what I was thinking when I wrote this blog.

    Dr Tony

  4. I would never argue that we should do away with all Federal spending. The Federal government is necessary for those functions beyond that of state and local government such as national defense. The websites you cited appear to have anti-military agendas and have twisted the numbers. I was looking at
    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

    Notice that defense is 20%, Social security is 20%, Medicare/Medicaid is 21% and safety net programs is 14%. These are big numbers and clearly show that the Federal government spends 55% on its citizens welfare. I have been to countries where there seems to be no thought given to its citizens. If they lay down on the side of the road and die then so be it. Here in America that does not happen.

    What concerns me and many other people is the growth in Federal spending. We are now spending more as a percentage of GDP than at any other time since WW II.
    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/downchart_gs.php?year=1900_2010&units=p&title=Spending%20as%20percent%20of%20GDP

    This is not good. If 40% of our spending is from the government then we are sucking the life out of our commerce. This is what is concerning many people and may be a factor in slowing our economic recovery. I wish I knew more about economics so I understood that better.

    I do not know too many rich people. I know a few who you might describe as comfortable. They work hard, donate to charity, attend church and do not spend conspicuously. They are very much engaged and hold political views from left to right. I have never heard any of them say they want more money at the expense of the poor or want to see a growing gap between them and the poor. Quite the opposite. They would prefer a large thriving middle class. This is where money is made. I know one who went from well off to scraping by when his business collapsed. In this country today’s poor may be tomorrow’s rich and vice versa. The idle rich is the stuff of TV from what I can see.

    As to those who sit in the pews claiming to be Christian maybe they are not as committed as we would like but I have no way to really tell what lies within someone’s heart.

    I agree that our treatment of our veterans especially the wounded ones who are dumped into the VA system with little or no support is just plain wrong.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s