I want to learn how to break away from putting faith and trust in civic government. Lent Week 1, Day 5
Do you ever get so wrapped up in the big topics that you can hardly think of anything else? Do you spend a lot of time reading, researching, and responding to philosophical and political ideologies and try to do your best to provide a convincing argument?
This is not necessarily a bad thing.
But do you spend so much time looking at the broad and transcendent topics that you fail to see the person who lives right down the street?
There is a lot I believe in. There is a lot I think is important. There are a lot of issues that I want you to be in agreement with me. I will talk with you about these things—on my better days; on my worse days I will yell at you and post angry memes. On my really bad days, I will avoid talking to you at all and find people I know who agree with me and talk to them.
And I will be proud of my enlightened mind that is convinced of the rightness of my convictions.
When I think about where things stand in current political discourse, I consider the beginning of Psalm 10. That one talks a lot about how people in power have been (in fact, if you read Psalm 9 first it gives even greater context):
3 For the wicked celebrates the evil cravings of his heart
as the greedy curses and rejects the Eternal.
4 The arrogance of the wicked one keeps him from seeking the True God.
He truly thinks, “There is no God.”
5 His ways seem always to be successful;
Your judgments, too, seem far beyond him, out of his reach.
He looks down on all his enemies.
6 In his heart he has decided, “Nothing will faze me.
From generation to generation I will not face trouble.”
7 His mouth is full of curses, lies, and oppression.[b]
Beneath his tongue lie trouble and wickedness.
8 He hides in the shadows of the villages,
waiting to ambush and kill the innocent in dark corners.
He eyes the weak and the poor.
9 Ominously, like a lion in its lair,
he lurks in secret to waylay those who are downtrodden.
When he catches them, he draws them in and drags them off with his net.
10 Quietly crouching, lying low,
ready to overwhelm the next by his strength,
11 The wicked thinks in his heart, “God has forgotten us!
He has covered His face and will never notice!”
As I read these words, I cry out to God that there is so much evil in the world. I am astounded that words written thousands of years ago are still so relevant to today. And I also exclaim that I hate the same things that God hates. And I find comfort in having my opinions affirmed.
But then I begin to sink into despair. Because there is so much evil. And so many people don’t seem to get it. So that leads me to argue even more.
But then I read to the end of that Psalm:
14 But wait! You have seen,
and You will consider the trouble and grief he caused.
You will impose consequences for his actions.
The helpless, the orphans, commit themselves to You,
and You have been their Helper….
17 O Eternal One, You have heard the longings of the poor and lowly.
You will strengthen them; You who are of heaven will hear them,
18 Vindicating the orphan and the oppressed
so that men who are of the earth will terrify them no more.
The clear and present danger evil causes in this world is a serious matter. But much more serious is what I am doing in the world right around me. What am I doing to help the people most victimized by this world’s evil? I can yell and scream and argue all I want.
Or I can go and do. The more I yell and scream, the more this world’s evil has defeated me; because it will have taken my eyes off what is truly important.
Do I still get to stand up for my convictions? Absolutely. In fact, I think it is necessary. But I will not begin with the issues and start arguing. I will start with the person in my neighborhood who needs some help.
Who knows? Maybe I won’t even need to use words to argue my point anymore.