Friday, January 13, 2012

Something we all can do during the primaries

Now that the field is beginning to narrow in the Republican race for the nomination, the gloves are off.  Claiming that Mr. Romney was brutal to him in Iowa, Mr. Gingrich has decided to answer in kind as the South Carolina primary approaches.  The cynic in me smirks and plans to watch the brawl from a distance—not a stance I am proud of.  The better man in me remembers that Jesus commands me to love my neighbor as myself.  This means for starters that I have to love Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney, whom I must labor not to turn into mere media figures—the incarnation of the few sound bites I manage to hear from them.  And then I have to move past them to the people in my neighborhood, and then the people of my country and the people that my country has an impact on.  When I start thinking this way, I begin to understand why it is so tempting to be cynical.  If I were to really care, I would be overwhelmed: The world out there is too big—the issues too complex—the forces at work too powerful—the personalities too subtle. 

I sometimes wonder if the ardent true believer among us is just the flip side of the cynic.  In neither case is there a willingness or an ability to deal with how complicated everything and everybody actually is.

What do we do?  There is no single answer.  We all have different callings—different gifts, different types of opportunities.  But if we are Christians there is one thing we all can do.  The shut-in who can’t get out to the polling station can do it, as can the twelve-year-old who is not old enough to vote, the conscientious citizen who has studied an issue carefully and is still confused about it, the civil servant who is dismayed by the corruption and inefficiency in the department where he works, the soldier on the battlefield, the official in the State Department struggling with how best to respond to an international crisis, the missionary who is being thrown out of an Islamic nation whose government has just turned radical, the national believer who is on trial for her faith, the young black who is pulled over on the highway for racial reasons.   We can all pray.

Not only can we pray.  We must pray.  If the church does not pray for “God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,” who will?  Just how we pray is the subject for another blog.  Let me say this much here.  If the Bible is to be believed, praying is the most powerful and strategic thing we could ever do for our country. 

We may assent to this—but I don’t think we really believe it.  Question.  How much time (how many actual minutes—count them) did you spend last week praying for the country, praying for President Obama, praying for the candidates in the race for the Republican nomination, praying about whatever issue is really exercising you at the moment?

Some of the Freudians among us might say that politics (like everything else) is just sublimated sex.  I wonder if politics isn’t rather sublimated prayer.  We fight politically because we do not know how to pray politically.  Think about that.

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