Matthew 5:45b ŇFor he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.Ó
I think one of my biggest hopes for the next administration, whoever might be at the helm, is that there will be a moratorium on giving the national microphone to religious nutcases. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (the early 1980Ős in Rhode Island) I used to listen to the Focus on the Family radio show with Dr. James Dobson. Back then the show was about psychology, which is Dr. DobsonŐs area of expertise, and it focused on applying psychological insights to family life. I actually used some of those insights throughout my ministry as I did pastoral counseling with distraught couples and families.
Sometime between 1980 and today, something went haywire and DobsonŐs organization came to believe that what defines us as Christian is not our profession of faith or our baptism but rather the way we vote on certain issues. God apparently then went on sabbatical and left Dobson in charge of what those issues are. Just how far the esteemed doctor has come over these past decades was evident last week with the posting of a video on the Focus on the Family website by one of their columnists, Stuart Shepard. The video encouraged everyone to pray for torrential rain in Denver on the night of ObamaŐs acceptance speech in the outdoor Mile High Stadium—rain bad enough to make it impossible for the cameras to film or any but the most determined supporters to attend. It was so over the top that even Focus on the Family supporters complained and the site pulled the video. But of course it was first snagged for YouTube and you can watch it here: http://tw.youtube.com/watch?v=IJY0NuBC7vo.
Of course that night in Denver was as perfect as it gets, although some have noted with irony that the Fox News skybox was flooded by a sprinkler system failure. Of course now the bigger rejoinders come from the left, noting that God seems to have answered Mr. ShepardŐs prayer against the Democrats by disrupting the Republican convention with a hurricane. Ironically there are even atheists cheering for God in this turn of the debate. Some on the right have shot back, as they did after Katrina, saying that God is again targeting New Orleans because they had a gay pride parade scheduled. The left notes that most hurricanes seem to hit red states. And so it goes.
All I can say is, STOP!!!
Nobody on either the left or the right should be cheering for something as devastating as a hurricane. And nobody who professes to let the Gospel guide his or her life should make any proclamation about how God is using weather events to express a preference or inflict a punishment. Probably people did the same thing in JesusŐ day, which is why Jesus also said, ŇStop!Ó in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells us quite plainly that the weather is just the weather. God created it, yes, but God does not use it as either a carrot or a stick. God makes sure that both the evil and the good get sunny days and that both the righteous and the unrighteous get rain.
IŐll tell you what I pray for. I pray for a nation driven by intelligent compassion rather than ideology. I pray that we will lose our national taste for shock jocks of both the left and the right so that media outlets will find their ratings go up when they feature respectful dialogue on important issues and down when thereŐs a shouting match between ideologues. I pray that Christians of red stripes will recognize the face of Christ in Christians of blue stripes and vice versa and work together to bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. And, in my baser moments, I pray that all those who cheer the devastation of others have their toilets back up!
Forgive us, God, when we take your name in vain.
Copyright by Anne Robertson, 2008
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