Posted by: ritagone | July 29, 2010

Politics and Society…always

Here’s a great quote from an American politician, great because it’s so blatantly honest and forthright, something you just don’t see or hear very often from life-long politicians:  “We’re incompetent.  I wonder who the 23% of the American people are that trust us.  They have no reason to trust us.”  Senator Tom Coburn, (R), Oklahoma, speaking on “Morning Joe,” MSNBC, May 27, 2010.  It was in reaction to a recent poll showing that 77% of the American people mistrust politicians, both senators and congressmen and women.

How sad.  Those who are supposedly in office to represent the people who elected them wind up being so mistrusted that little by little confidence in government has become totally eroded.  No one trusts anyone anymore.  And why not?  Because when we have trusted, that trust has been betrayed over and over again.  Corruption, self-aggrandizement, betrayal: these are the normal behaviors of politicians, and not just in the U.S.  Scandals and self-achievement, personal promotion are the hallmarks of those in political office the world over.  In some countries the behavior is so criminal it makes your skin crawl, and by comparison, other countries have political representatives who “only” lie, cheat and steal rather than murder and commit great moral failures.  This is not a pretty picture, is it?

But the reality is that this is nothing new.  Wherever men have gathered into societies, governments have been formed…and politicans have taken office and become corrupt.  It is the truth of Scripture that man will always seek his own level of power and move up as he can, always looking out for himself, very rarely caring for those around him, especially those in the lower social stratas.  In Jesus’ day, for example, when He encouraged people to take the seats at the farthest, lowest end of the dinner table, that was a shocking pronouncement, because everyone knew that you needed to serve yourself first and foremost, get to the head of the class, make sure people knew that you deserved to be Number One.

I’m reading Thomas Cahill’s wonderful book “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” in which he details society before and after Jesus, and the impact the Saviour had upon the civilizations immediately surrounding Him.  Because you and I didn’t live in the first century, we have an imperfect idea of the impact Jesus had on the culture of that time, how so many of His pronouncements and teachings were quite revolutionary for those hearing what He had to say.  Like Tom Coburn’s pronouncement that American politicians are incompetent, Jesus shocked those who were listening to Him for many reasons, but one of them was that what He said was so unexpected and unheard of.  “Turn the other cheek.”  “Blessed are the poor.”  “Let the little children come to me.”  Over and over again He said things that caused His listeners to stop in shock and listen more intently because what they were hearing went against everything they had been taught and told for decades past.

The book also delineates how shocking so many of Paul’s teachings were to a culture that favored position and power rather than equality and generosity.   Reading Cahill’s book has made me want to go back and re-read the New Testament through the eyes of the cultural challenges Jesus and Paul and others presented to the people around them.  Maybe that will be my morning reading for the month of September!!

Next week will be my last Rita’s Ramblings before I leave for Germany and the CA CONNECT conference.

Between now and next week, give some thought to some new ways of thinking Jesus is leading you to put your mind to.  Where is He challenging you to be stretched beyond your comfort zone?


Regards, Rita

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