Clergy Confessional (82) We Are Complicit

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The first scripture for this coming Sunday is from Isaiah 1. The people are told to “cease evil, learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Earlier, we hear that God is tired of our festivals and our solemn assemblies. God can no longer bear our shallowness and faithlessness. God has had enough.

I wonder what God is thinking about America now. No, I am not one of those people who points to the lack of prayer in schools or taking down the 10 Commandments off of the walls of public buildings as signs of our estrangement from God. I think the lack of prayer in homes and the refusal to live by the teachings of Jesus are some things that most Christians could be convicted of, but that isn’t the point of this blog.

Do you think God might be saying something like, “I’m tired of your thoughts and prayers – I’m tired of your endless memorials and national pride – I’m tired of your excuses – I’m tired of you blaming women for the impossible choices they have to make – I’m tired of your reckless endangerment of children – I’m tired of you worrying about who loves who while you love nobody.” Every time someone picks up a gun to commit mass murder, we are complicit. Every time a child goes hungry, we are complicit. Every time a family becomes homeless because they can’t afford medical insurance, we are complicit.

We will never get rid of evil acts – there will always be people who destroy the lives of others for their own gain and satisfaction. We will never be rid of guns – it is a right given by the Constitution, and the vast majority of gun owners use that right responsibly. People will drive drunk, and hurt each other, and use drugs, and make bad decisions – that is the problem of free will.

But the things we can do, we aren’t. We have allowed organizations like the NRA to buy our politicians. We have watched as white supremacists have found fertile ground for their evil, and we have done little to punish them. We continue to increase our military spending beyond reason while complaining that there isn’t enough money for food, clothing, and medicine. We are complicit.

We continue our complicity at our own risk. As a Christian, I am well aware of the punishment Jesus promised for those who mistreat the weakest among us. To you who vote – to you who are elected – to you who do not vote – our complicity will certainly condemn us. Those who can hear, listen.

Steve Ohnsman has been pastor of Calvary UCC in Reading, PA since 1999. He has a BA in Religion & Philosophy from Wilmington College (OH), an MDiv from Drew Theological Seminary (NJ), a DMin in Christian Ethics from United Theological Seminary (OH), and a PhD in Leadership from Alvernia University (PA).

Author: Pastor Steve Ohnsman