PREACH THE GOSPEL?
Let’s talk some about the role of the church in society. Many years ago I had a friend who was a preacher/pastor- at the time some people kindly told him ‘brother- I know Jesus is the answer- but you need to also teach- you can’t just say ‘Jesus is the way’ all the time’.
Were they right? In a way- yes. Let me explain. In the book of Isaiah we read about the purpose of Jesus [chapter 11]. Jesus came to preach the gospel [good news] to the poor- set captives free- to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
The book of Amos [a prophet in the Old Testament] shows Amos railing against the rich- the powerful- as he defends the poor in society. Part of ‘the gospel’ is speaking out against injustices in society- telling those in power ‘your day is coming- you have trampled down the innocent- abused the immigrant- and God hears their cry’.
Yes- a part of the ministry of the church is to address these abuses in society. Now- what happens when the church casts off this job? It gets picked up by any/all others who are willing to run with it. So you have ‘the media’ or even a comic like Jon Stewart- anyone else who is willing to speak out against injustices- uneven scales- these will fill the void if Gods people won’t.
If you read the ministry of Jesus- the things he did and said- he often came up against religious forms of holiness. Those in society who thought their purpose was to- well be ‘religious’. That is they made a special class out of religion. They often engaged in public displays of it [prayer- fasting to be seen of men].
They valued their own religious experience as the primary thing- when they perceived man getting in the way of their expression of religion- they were willing to ‘sacrifice him’ [literally] in order for their own religious cause to gain influence [they said of Jesus- if he keeps doing this we will lose our position of power and influence].
At the end of the day- these religious folk saw their own view of religion as the primary thing- it took precedence over all other things- even people themselves.
Now- when the church reduces her mission to ‘religious speech’ that is when they refuse to engage in society- to do what the prophets did in the bible- defend the poor- rail against injustice- when Gods people leave this part of ‘preaching the gospel’ out- then they unknowingly have given in to the temptation to see their practice of religion- as simply a ‘religious thing’.
In a way- they have become like the religious folk of Jesus day- so busy carrying out their religious tasks- that the voiceless of society have no one to advocate for them.
We are living in a day where many major upheavals are taking place- I think the ‘average person’ does not fully understand the seriousness of what’s going on in the world today. It is quite possible that the U.S. will default on her debt. And that we will face a credit crisis equal to that of Greece- where the politicians have pandered to the people to a point where the people are rising up in the streets because they refuse to see the reality of the situation.
There are threads of this taking place right now in this country- at the current rate we are going- our debt will equal our GDP in 10 years- that’s really bad.
As we have these debates- we must remember that the poor and impoverished of the world count to God- the cause of the illegal alien means a lot to God- these issues are not just nationalistic- they are of concern to God.
As we move down this treacherous road over these next few years- lets not forsake that part of the gospel that calls us to speak up for the poor- to speak truth to power- and to expose injustice wherever we see it- not just on the opposing team.
 ADULTS IN THE ROOM?
This week the ‘raise the debt ceiling’ talks broke down. Eric Cantor- the repubs top negotiator- walked out of the talks in frustration. The Dems want to raise taxes [actually cut certain tax breaks] and the Repubs want to only cut spending.
We [govt] have a 14.3 trillion ‘limit’ on the national credit card and in August we hit the limit. Some say if we don’t raise the limit it will be catastrophic- others say raising it would be.
I do hold to the more liberal view- that we should probably raise the thing- but make sure we also get real cuts- not fake stuff.
When Cantor walked out of the talks the Repubs said ‘look- we are negotiating for something you [Dems and pres] should have taken care of over a year ago’ [present a budget]. The Repubs said ‘do your job- present your side’!
Are they right? Yes. The reason the president and Dems have not presented a budget [going into 2 full years without one!] is because they really did not want to bite the bullet and make choices that would get people mad. So as they waited and waited- the Repubs did a daring [some say stupid] thing and in the house they presented the Ryan plan.
Before Paul Ryan presented the plan some said ‘no- don’t do it- we are in the minority [the Repubs don’t hold the executive office or the senate] and it’s really not our responsibility to present something’. Some conservatives said if you present one- the left will only use it to attack the Repubs and will not present their own plan.
The president actually gave a speech a year or so ago that warned of this- he said we have to deal with debt in a serious way- and if both sides play games- accuse the other side of wanting to kill grandma- then the country will suffer.
So Ryan put the plan out- and within days the commercials ran- they found a Ryan lookalike and they showed you him wheeling grandma over the cliff. What was the president’s response to this childishness? He was the lead ‘child’ [a child shall lead them?]
Yes- the president went on the air and railed against the Repubs plan- he said they want to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly and the poor.
Fine- I personally think Ryan did go too far- and I think we should do both- tax ‘increases’ and cuts. But Cantor saw the writing on the wall- that it is indeed the president’s job to do a budget- they didn’t do one- the Dems stalled- endlessly on the thing.
And instead of using the Ryan plan as an excuse to do some cuts and say ‘look- Ryan forced me’ instead- the president resorted to the thing he warned against- he did use it as a political tool to help his cause in the upcoming election.
Now- this is what makes me seriously wonder whether or not we will avoid a real Greek style debt crisis. Those in the know [on both sides] realize that the biggest expense that the country can’t afford- is actually the projected rise in Medicare costs down the road. It’s going to eventually ‘eat up the entire economy’ [Bill Clinton].
So if the Dems decide to simply use this as a political tool [which they have done] then the only way we will ever deal with it is for the Repubs to force something thru- while the Dems say ‘those darn baby/grandma killers- they made us do it’.
But the Repubs said ‘hell- you know what- every time you make us take the fall- we get the blame- and you [Mr. pres] are acting like you’re in the minority- you and the Dems are not presenting any budget- going on 2 years- and getting away with making us do the dirty work- and then blaming us all the way- while we are really saving your skin!’
I see their point. So- we have about a month to go- and after Cantor walked out- I thought here might be some hope- you know- both sides cooling off some- another round of golf? How did the left describe Cantors frustration- quote ‘the cry baby wet his pants and ran home to mommy’- Ah- we could analyze this statement- try and read some hope into it- maybe they were concerned about Cantors family life? Well heck- I give up- I mean they didn’t even use the word mother. The globes future depends on the ‘adults in the room’ I didn’t know adults wet their pants and run home to mommy?