As a child we all may have heard this from our parents. It meant an end to the fun we had been having, we now had to pick up all of our toys. Or maybe we had wanted to do something nice for our mom and baking a cake seemed at the time a good idea, but now with flour all over us and the counter top, we may have gotten in over our heads.
Today we find ourselves like a mom that has returned from checking on the laundry to discover something like the above, we find our current national leadership. The examples above are of innocence, and motivated by love, the present situation in our nation’s leadership and representation is far from innocence.
As we watch the political horror that is unfolding in our nation, we might mistake it for a reality television show. One is left wondering if some producer has cast our government with a few train wrecks, some drama queens/kings, and a few Springer throwaways for voyeuristic entertainment.
For the past several decades, our government has been in a steep dive in terms of integrity and honor. Allegations of legal, ethical, and moral violations have piled up faster than Pharaoh’s storehouses after Joseph took over. From grave and malicious, to simple grandstanding and immaturity. From adultery in the oval office and laundered money funneled into reelection campaigns, to grandstanding chicken dinners by Judiciary Committee members, and a squad of ideological bigots led by a barmaid that has raised the contempt for the offices they serve in.
In this article I want to focus on the legislative branch of our government, and offer an illustration from the Old Testament, and found in 1 Samuel the second chapter.
Here in this body of 535 men and women known as our Congress, is a snapshot of the citizenry of our nation. We cannot watch news reports on our televisions as if we were watching a sporting event, and shout out in disgust, “Are you trying to lose this”! We voted them in.
Now before you shout me down and scream out in disgust and frustration that this person does not represent me, let me remind you that there is a huge difference between represent and reflect. If you reside within the geographical boundary of a district then that elected official does represent you…or should. You can attempt to hashtag away their existence, but the majority of voters said different. Our relief is in this, they don’t reflect who we are.
I now want to look at the account of Eli’s two sons found in the Old Testament. Hophni and Phinehas served as Priests in the Temple. Various translations bring out the condition of these two men’s hearts, and we can see some similarities in some that serve our nation today. The New Living says that they were “scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests”. What might we say of those who hold offices, and have the duty to serve and represent us today? They are scoundrels and have no respect for the Constitution, or their duties to our nation.
Looking again at the example of Eli’s sons, their corrupt and immoral actions resulted in a despising of the offerings they were commanded to bring to the Temple. On both sides of the aisle, corrupt elitism resulting from the enduring tenure of members long overdue for a “haircut and a real job”, has frustrated the majority of Main St. which looks toward C St. with anger, distrust, and apathy.
“I will well and faithfully discharge the duties…”
Part of the oath taken by those that have been given a trust, to serve in the government of our nation. I have familiarity with oaths, as I have taken three, and am still under one. As such I am held to a standard of legal and ethical behavior. I am also subject to a table of penalties should I fail to well and faithfully discharge my duties.
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. This is a principle in God’s Word, which is not just for those in ministry, but for everyone. It is for the banker and the baker, as for the electrician and the pediatrician.
But a higher standard is in place for those that are in authority over, or representing of, people.
James Garfield made this statement at the beginning of his presidency.
“It will be the purpose of my administration to require the honest and faithful service of all executive officers. Remembering that the offices were created, not for the benefit of the incumbents or their supporters, but for the service of the government.”
Imagine how much better things might be today if we could enjoy this commitment from our elected representatives, appointed government officials and federal employees.
Appoint men and women that are faithful. The Bible gives instruction, and list qualifications for placing someone into ministry. While the ungodly world will say that these are preacher rules and they don’t apply outside the church. Having just an inkling of common sense would lead us to apply these qualifications to those in government service would be a tremendous benefit for our nation.
The burden of responsibility for our government is much like a double edge sword. There is responsibility on those elected, and on those that elect. We should remain diligent to what our forefathers gave us. Our freedoms are not without greater responsibility on us, the people. Our Constitution did not merely guarantee our freedom from, but more importantly charged us as citizens with responsibility to. Each and every citizen, regardless of status or station, has duty to preserve and defend against all enemies that would threaten not only our liberty, but our unity by which we live in community together.
Just as Eli had authority to affect change, we have authority to bring correction to our government. In 15 days, at the time of this writing, another mid-term election will be upon us.
The responsibility for this mess is not with the Republicans or the Democrats. We as Americans need to accept the responsibility for, not what they have done, but for what we have allowed. We the people have failed to honor the offices to which we sent these political charlatans. It may have seemed good to vote for them then, but when iniquity was found in them they should have been removed.
Back to Eli and his sons. Eli knew what was taking place, and confronted them, insisting that they stop their sinful actions. But they refused to listen, or change. We see the same response in our representatives today. They often fail to acknowledge wrongdoing, blame shift, and attempt to control the narrative as they await a change in the news cycle.
People fail, the office does not. People can bring dishonor to the office. This is true of those that serve, but also those that place people in these offices.
While both bear responsibility, the one could never have opportunity, except for the agreement of the many. This responsibility is for the establishment of, and the bringing of correction to. As Eli had the authority to correct his sons, he also bore responsibility, and suffered for his failure to remove them from their positions. We need to correct and clean up this mess.
We have not gotten to this condition by conquest, but by complacency. So what do we do, where do we start? Maybe we should start by crashing their party.
“I showed up in boots, and ruined your black tie affair”
We know this line from Garth Brooks’ song, “Friends in Low Places”. We all may relate in some differing way to the situation that is portrayed in this song. Maybe it was an estranged relative that returns for a family reunion. Maybe your Cousin Eddy shows up for Christmas. Is it not the time for our elitist Congress to experience an uncomfortable situation like this?
Maybe it is time that we send boots to Washington instead of Louis Vuitton’s. How about the boots of a steel mill worker, or rancher. How about the high heeled boots of a woman that actually built a business, or the bear claws of a single mom that raised four kids while working two jobs?
Is it time that we send boots that protect feet, which are attached to legs, which attach to a torso, which houses a servant’s heart?
Is it time that we drop the ideological litmus tests and test the hearts of those seeking these offices? Maybe we should begin to hold them to the test of stewardship. Have they been faithful in the little things?