Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 26 of Lent, Thursday, April 3, 2014

    The heart is devious above all else;
                      it is perverse—
             who can understand it?

                       Jeremiah 17:9

     Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, 
       according to our likeness; 

                       Genesis 1:26

These two scriptures seem opposed to one another if you don't imagine God to be devious or perverse.  Of course a devious or perverse God doesn't seem to fit with the letters of John which define God as love.

Do you see humankind as inherently sinful or as made in God's image - a little lower than God? (Psalm 8). 

Maybe we are both.  We are created in the image of God, capable of great good.  Yet we are oriented around the self which causes sin to distort our potential.

It used to be that liberals followed along more closely to the idea of being created in God's image while conservatives were more likely to speak of the sinfulness of all people.

Yet when we speak of the free market, we find almost the opposite.  Conservatives seem to value less regulation by government, preferring the free market to self-correct.

In other words, businesses whose products are dangerous or deficient would be unable to survive the lawsuits and bad press and would go the way of the dinosaur.  Businesses that provide quality services and products would rise like cream to the top.

This is almost an egalitarian view of companies and their strategies to make a profit.

On the other hand, liberals tend to look for regulations to protect citizens from some of the more dangerous products or practices.

They tend to have a darker outlook on the nature of businesses, seeing CEO's as robber barons of old.

Some of the regulations that we have in the United States that both sides tend to agree on would be food and water standards.  It is nice not to wonder about the quality of the meat or produce we purchase at the store.

We assume certain safety regulations when we fly on a commercial plane and are happy that we don't have to wonder if a new airplane that just rolled off the line will be safe or not.

The question becomes, how much regulation is enough and when does it become ponderous?

This argument garnered the spotlight on Wednesday when the Supreme Court struck down the
 James Earle Fraser's statue The Authority of Law, which sits
on the west side of the United States Supreme Court building.
campaign contribution cap for our elected officials.  The conservative opinion prevailed 5-4 as this regulation of American politics was removed.  

Both sides speak in Pollyanna: the liberals imagine that deregulated spending on elections will look more like Lord of the Flies while the conservatives see them more as the unspoiled Blue Lagoon.

Okay, this may be exaggeration but not much.

As a pastor, I believe that humans are made in God's image and yet when we gather together, we sometimes revert to the lowest common denominator.

I've seen elections run with a sense of goodwill for one another and I've also seen them where the candidates run each other through the mud.  At the end of the day, everyone feels dirty when this happens.

When all is said and done, is the better person with the ideals we need elected to serve? Or is it more likely the person willing to sling mud with the coffers to do it that comes out on top?  

The Founding Fathers were skeptical of democracy believing that the common person was swayed by gifted orators rather than making informed decisions.  Hmm.

A representative government was built to protect us from ourselves.  

Theologically, I would like to be optimistic about our ability to work together and come up with leadership that is selfless.  But I also ascribe to the fact that all sin and fall short of God's glory.  

Is the amount a person can spend on political elections a form of free speech?  The Supreme Court says yes.  Is it wise?  Time will tell.  

As we continue to walk with Christ during Lent, let us be in prayer for all our political leaders that they might not be swayed by the dollars of political supporters but rather by information and the good of the people they serve.

Photo by Matt H. Wade (User:UpstateNYer). [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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