We can all remember dad saying to us the classic parental rhetorical question: "If you're friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?" This statement was typically the response to some kind of juvenile foolish thinking and decision making. And the obvious, common sense answer was a contrite, "of course not dad." Why would I follow a fool off a cliff to my own demise? If I did so, then I'm the fool! That was the essential lesson that our parents attempted to instill in us with the image of the cliff.
If you haven't heard of the "fiscal cliff" that our elected legislators and president are currently speeding toward, then you've been living under a rock. As soon as the presidential election was over, the fiscal cliff became the buzz phrase all over Washington and in the media. Essentially, come January 1, according to the current law, dramatic spending cuts will go into effect in the federal budget and Bush-era tax cuts will expire. Most politicians and pundits alike seem to think this will certainly place greater burden on an already sluggish and sputtering economy.
Everyone seems to agree that jumping off the cliff is idiotic. However, it seems that we get to watch our partisan politicians play a game of chicken, seeing who will flinch first, while the consequences of their actions will impact those whom they are supposed to be representing and for whom they are working. It's the endless, predictable, pathetic drama of Washington that the ordinary, hard-working American gets put out with. Most folks want to see our elected officials work together for the common good, make reasonable sacrifices if necessary, and put service of country before self.
God's Word describes why government exists. In Romans 13:4 government is described ideally as "a minister of God to you for good." People should understand that God has established government as a means by which evil is restrained and punished, and law-abiding citizens are protected. As a believer I am captive to the Bible's teaching that I should honor and pray for those who God is allowing to govern me and my family. However, I also have a biblically-informed expectation that my government should be making decisions that have my best interest at heart. These decisions may not always be easy ones, but at the end of the day they should be the morally responsible ones.
This so-called fiscal cliff is just the latest example of politics overrunning real service among our elected representatives. Each side will try to leverage public fear to their advantage and play the blame game instead of just doing their duty to the people and consequently honoring God in the performance of that duty.
I hope that you will join me in praying for our legislators and president in the coming weeks. Our duty as the church is to pray for these men and women who shoulder this enormous responsibility. Let's pray that they will exercise wisdom and cooperation. Let's pray that conviction will fall on them that their own careerism will take a backseat to their mission. Let's pray that they will put petty partisan behavior aside and work for a common good. Let's pray that they will make sound decisions for the long-term good and not for what is just politically expedient in the moment. And let's pray that they don't allow their desire to be re-elected to their positions to deter them from doing what is right for the people.
I sure hope that some of their dads or moms are calling them and saying, "Son, if your fellow Senator jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?"
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