Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish. (Ps 146.2-3)
If my Facebook feed is any indication of American Society at large, then there are a lot of people, lay and ordained, who didn’t listen to last Sunday’s Track 2 Psalm. There are a lot of people out there this morning who have put their faith – another way to say “trust” – in ideologies that have, as of 12:00 midnight last night, failed miserably.
I try to stay away from politics on this page. Quite frankly, I try to stay away from politics in my life (except of Church politics, I’m kind of a nerd for that stuff) because it is my job to be a pastor to every member of my congregation from Tea Party to Think Progress and everywhere in between. When my particular views on things get in the way of that, I’ve failed to live into my ordination vows, and I take that very seriously. However, this morning, as a disciple of Jesus who happens to be a Raging Moderate, I can’t help but wonder how we ended up with the government shutdown and my news feed full of people wagging fingers across the political aisle.
It seems clear that the American healthcare system is in need of reform. Ask doctors, nurses, patients, and administrators and they’ll all tell you that there are parts of it that need to be fixed. Is The Affordable Care Act, dubbed “Obamacare”, the answer? Probably not. Did the President and his people do a terrible job of selling the ACA? Absolutely! According to USA Today and Pew Research, in early September 42% of Americans approved of Obamacare, while 53% didn’t like it. I imagine the numbers are much worse this morning. In my conversations with friends and family who own small businesses, it was clear that the uncertainty over what the ACA would do in the open market had kept them from expanding, hiring, and generally kept the economy from recovering as quickly as it could. The fact of the matter is that despite the protections written into the ACA, insurance companies and lawyers still run the American healthcare system, and until tort reform is seriously addressed – something that won’t happen as long as 211 of the 535 members of Congress (about 40%) self-identify as lawyers – not much is really going to change.
We have placed our faith in children of the earth and they have failed us.
Which leads me to the request the Disciples ask of Jesus in Sunday’s Gospel lesson, “Increase our faith!” I’m grateful to the great minds at Luther Seminary who noted that Jesus’ response to their request is made hard by the slavery imagery, but is really quite simple. “You cold have faith the size of a mustard see, or whatever, it doesn’t matter, and move a mulberry tree, but that’s not what this is about,” Jesus says, “faith is about a relationship, it is about trust. Trust in the Lord and the rest will take care of itself.” Essentially, what Jesus suggests is that if the disciples trust in Jesus, then what lies ahead for them is simply the tasks expected. “Trust me and do your job,” to put is simply.
So what, then, is our job? To do justice. To love kindness. To walk humbly with our God. To love one another as Christ loved us. And, finally, to go and preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in that name of the Triune God. Sure, we can debate how we do justice and whose responsibility it is, that’s what humans do, that’s why we have politics, but our motivation isn’t faith in an ideology – faith the size of a mustard seed in the ACA on one side and anti-Obamacare rhetoric on the other side moved the government to shut down – but rather, our motivation is the Kingdom of God, something assured to us by grace, through faith, that is trust, in Jesus Christ. Perhaps we could remember that this morning, rather than pointing fingers at each other over ideologies that have and will continue to fail us in the end.