Good Life

Clergy Column | Bishop Council Nedd II

All one must do is turn on the television, and from the steady stream of advertisements, it’s easy to tell that it is election time in Happy Valley and across the state.

I suppose the commercials are all right, because this country is at a crossroads and many people have much to say on the subject.

However, very few politicians are saying anything I want to hear. Everyone I have seen on my television has lost their focal point and forgotten the relationship between politics and faith.

What is this relationship between politics and faith? On occasion, I have become too personally vested in election outcomes. At times, I’ve held the belief that the election of the wrong person would immediately and adversely affect my life. This is just not true.

While I disagree with President Obama’s vision and find his logic on the economy, faith, health care and foreign policy to be flawed, I didn’t believe his re-election would immediately lead to the chronically ill dying in the streets for lack of health care. Fortune 500 companies would not vanish into thin air right away. I slept confident that I would not awake to a North Korean invasion imagined in the remake of “Red Dawn.” But I also don’t think antagonizing Russia is a good idea.

However, there are some serious issues that Pennsylvania and our nation must address, and my daily prayer is that the Lord will work in the hearts of our elected leaders to find the solutions. The nation won’t collapse overnight, but a prolonged decline will undoubtedly make things a lot more uncomfortable.

In the midst of all of this, I still remain firmly convinced that our nation will endure. Why do I stand fast in this belief? I do so because, from America’s founding through today, our fate has rested on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. The Lord made his face to shine on our great land. There are still so many signs that he has not removed his favor from us. Many conservatives seem to have forgotten God’s divine presence. That’s a mistake.

I support Tea Party advocates bringing good economic issues to the forefront of America’s political discourse. I fear, however, that their efforts may suffer the same fate as the Whigs in the mid-19th century. All too focused on economic matters, the Whigs did not seriously address slavery, the crucial social issue of the day. They eventually found themselves cast into political obscurity and now are only a political curiosity from America’s past.

Tea Party activists embrace tax reform. I am more encouraged than ever that so many are now beginning to readily accept that wealth is a gift from the God, from whom all blessings flow. Seeking the gift without acknowledging and honoring the gift-giver is pure selfish secularism. Unabated, this will either end in people worshiping wealth as a false idol or encourage the notion that God is no longer necessary.

Many conservative friends from my former political life in Washington readily admit they do not regularly attend church. They claim offense at billboards mocking God and similar rhetorical jabs from liberals, agnostics and atheists, but they don’t exactly live a godly lifestyle themselves. They protest elements of Islam being integrated into mainstream America, but they will not profess their own faith. This is not really a tenable position.

There is not enough guile in my body to criticize the religious beliefs of others while making no attempt to practice my own. Thus, after deciding I was too vested in the most recent presidential election, I determined my role was to pray that in thought, word and deed I am a good citizen in God’s kingdom. I must focus on the job that he has for me. I also pray that others realize where their true focus should be.

Many politicians spend massive sums of money striving to reach the pinnacle of a modern-day Tower of Babel. Billions of dollars will be spent in feeble attempts to glimpse the face of God. My prayer is that the politicians will mature into true leaders and that we all will remember the words that God spoke to Solomon, one of the most wise and wealthiest humans ever to live: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”