Thinking about the Sequester

As you are probably aware, Congress and the White House are locked in a struggle over the fiscal future of our nation. I cannot begin to fully understand all of the decisions that are being made, the enormity of the budget, or the implications of the money being spent. I can, however, ask us to think about how we view the process and the larger ideology of the decisions that are being made.

It seems to me that one biblical principle that must bear on the decisions that are made is this: our nation’s fiscal concern should be less about catering to the wealthiest and more concern about helping people who are most needy and least able to help themselves. I recognize that many Christians may bristle at helping those who don’t help themselves. In fact, we often banter around the phrase: God helps those who help themselves. While I believe that God encourages self-initiative, this statement is heresy. The underlying biblical principle is not God does not help those who help themselves; on the contrary, it is God helps us because we can’t help ourselves. This means that if we are to model God’s behavior in this world we will work for the good of people who have little or no power, little or no influence, little or no voice in the structures of government.

I am concerned that too often the primary Christian voice about political influence is self-serving. We are more often than not working to make it easier to operate as Christians; we lobby about issues that are predominately about making life more pleasant and comfortable for us. I am not implying that Christians don’t have the right to speak up for our right to practice our faith; we lament that there are far too many places in the world where Christians are threatened if they openly practice their faith. I am stating that I do not see a biblical basis for exercising our rights to self-promotion. Instead, if we are going to have a voice of influence in government decisions, our responsibility is to create a new paradigm of representing and speaking for people who are unable to do so for themselves. Quite frankly, it seems to me that the majority of decisions made by government is in the best interest of those with the most money, power, influence not those with the least.

The apostle James writes harshly about the church that falls all over itself serving the rich while ignoring the poor. Of course, James learns this lesson from Jesus who tells his disciples that what they do for the least of society they do for him. It’s a radical, counter-cultural mindset as is most everything that Jesus teaches and models, which is why it’s so difficult for us to get it.

What bothers me most about the delays in making decisions and the ultra partisan attitude about the way the decisions are being made is that those who have the least are going to be hurt the most. This ought to alarm us and concern us and when the next election comes along, perhaps how we vote might be reflected in the way those we elect have acted in this whole debacle of self-serving governmental decision-making.