As a people, Americans are accustomed to solving most any problem that confronts us. Whether it was leading a world coalition to defeat the Nazis or responding to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, as a nation we have consistently risen to the occasion when we were faced with an existential threat. And, by the grace of God, over our 240+ year history, our nation has weathered even the worst of those threats.
A few days ago, Donald Trump held a press conference in which he described what he inherited from Barack Obama as a “mess.” Specifically, he had this to say: “As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess! It’s a mess! At home and abroad. A mess!”
He went on to describe some of that mess in his comments. And he spoke of these problems frequently during his campaign: Loss of jobs
A weakening military
A broken health care system
◾Spiraling, unsustainable debt
◾A broken immigration & refugee system
President Trump is right that our nation is in an absolute mess. Many have been saying this for a long time. But with the election of Trump, and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the power to address the “mess” has shifted to the GOP. It now possesses the authority and ability to implement whatever solutions it deems appropriate to deal with the many crises America faces.
Granted, it’s possible and likely that Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress will implement some sound political approaches and pass worthy legislation that will attempt to address these problems. If this battle was being played out on a football field, Republican efforts might advance the ball a few yards towards the goal line of greater prosperity, security, efficiency, lower taxes and more.
But lest we get too excited, the root of our nation’s problems does not stem from a dysfunctional Congress, an activist judicial branch, or even an unorthodox or confrontational president. Their behavior is merely a symptom of a much deeper struggle in our nation.
There is an old adage that goes: “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Fighting spiritual battles with political weapons will never offer a permanent solution. If fans attend a football game and they grow excited by their team moving the ball a few yards, but that team doesn’t possess the plays to score a touchdown, then those fans will be continuously frustrated, despite the brief exhilaration if a first down is achieved.
Likewise, using a knife to carve out a political strategy simply offers the exhilaration of a few short term victories. And while I would not diminish the importance of such wins, from a grander perspective of the battle our nation is embroiled in, these “wins” will be akin to a solitary first down, only to see the ball fumbled to the other team.
The fight our nation is embroiled in is a much deeper fight; one that has spiritual and eternal implications. The Bible speaks of this battle in Ephesians 6:12 — “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
While I acknowledge it is not the role of government to solve spiritual problems, it is possible for rulers or elected officials to compound those problems. And we have seen this occurring for many decades now, through legislation, regulation and policy.
In years past, there was a list of transgressions known as the “7 Deadly Sins” which originated shortly after the time of Christ. That ancient list, drawn from the Bible itself, is a modern day indictment of our own nation:
Think through this list and see how they perfectly describe many of the ills our nation is facing.
Lust is front and center nearly everywhere you look: TV, movies, magazines, billboards, internet. It’s nearly impossible to escape.
Gluttony is epidemic in America with more than 1/3 of our citizens obese. And by 2020, it’s estimated that nearly ¾ of Americans will be either overweight or obese.
Greed is typically associated with Wall Street, business owners, and multi-millionaires. But truthfully, greed is rampant at all socio-economic levels. The entire American culture has been organized around our insatiable desire to accumulate more and more.
Sloth or laziness is synonymous with millions of Americans. While certainly there are many who are unemployed who desire to work, there are literally tens of millions who would prefer to live off the welfare state.
Wrath is seen from DC to small town America. There is no shortage of anger in our nation today. While Donald Trump tapped into a lot of anger, we are seeing different types of anger displayed now that he is our President, and some of that anger is turning violent.
Envy is what drives many in our nation. We lack contentment because we desire what others have. And that desire is not limited to material things but can include status, abilities, and even desiring the characteristics of others.
Pride is seen by some as the worst of the seven deadly sins. By reciting such phrases as “if you believe it, you can achieve it” and other similar concepts, we remove God from the equation, exalting self to the position that only God should occupy.
If you’re like me, I can look through the list above and feel like I’m looking in the mirror for many of these. Sure, none of us are perfect. But how many of us can honestly acknowledge our shortcomings and say we are actively engaged in addressing those shortcomings, through God’s help, on a routine basis?
You see, our nation is a composite of its 330 million citizens. It only reflects what is in the hearts of its people. While we may bemoan the actions of our elected officials, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that they merely reflect what is in our hearts. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So, if we want to solve the many political solutions America is facing, it starts at the most fundamental level — looking in the mirror and beginning to address the spiritual problems in our own individual lives. As we do that, and only when we do that, can we ever hope to solve the seemingly insurmountable political problems facing our nation.
So what say you? Are you ready to start? If so, then get up, walk to the nearest mirror, and join me in saying: “Let’s change America … starting with me!”