Sarah Palin – change we can believe in?

Romans 13:8-14
For Sunday, September 7, 2008
Proper 18

I was captivated last night by Sarah Palin’s emergence as McCain’s pick to be his running mate. Here is – at least at first glance – what appears to be an authentic social and fiscal conservative who is committed to doing the right thing and is walking the walk. Better yet she understands both Alaska and drilling (her husband is an oil driller) and has a passion both for energy independence and the environment.

My jazz trio was over this morning and we had an extended conversation on politics. We agreed that too often in recent years the evangelical community has been co-opted by the Republican Party. We also agreed that while the emerging evangelical left is appropriately concerned about social justice, they are in danger of being co-opted by the Democrats. We also agreed that the key thing for us each to do as believers is to be engaged.

One way we each have to do this is to decide whom to vote for. This of course presumes we’ll be voting. The key question for believers may be this: which ticket presents better overall alignment with the Christian worldview? We ought not be aligned with either the Republicans or the Democrats, but we ought to be aligned with the gospel as a worldview. The Christian worldview is this: we are created in the image of God; we have fallen into sin; Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sin; and our purpose now is be part of God’s reconciling all things back to himself.

Now, how does that align with Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin? We each have to make that calculus. I actually agree with a point Obama made in his acceptance speech the other night: we as Americans have both an individual responsibility and a shared social responsibility. It is this latter responsibility that has too often been lost on Beltway Republicans.

At the same time, my personal opinion – not to be confused with theological conviction – is that a conservative (versus Republican) social and economic agenda gives us the best chance as a nation to fulfill a vision for both individual and social responsibility. I am very wary of government power. I think our current federal government is way too large and way too powerful. No one has even been talking about shrinking it. Reagan was the last one to do this and all he was able to do was shrink the rate of growth.

Obama spoke his ‘enough’: let me speak mine: Enough federal government encroachment, forced redistribution of wealth, profligate spending, and waste. Let’s determine which parts of government really contribute to both individual responsibility and social justiceand then eliminate the rest. Let’s also nurture the moral consensus (both individual and social) and free market that have served us so well over the past 200 years. A free market without a moral consensus leads to Russia. A moral consensus without a Judeo-Christian underpinning leads to places like Iran.

Despite our faults we have something very special in this country that ought to be cherished and nurtured. There is a lot to be cynical about politically and yet each of us can make a difference both individually and corporately. Don’t let cynicism lull you to sleep. A selection from today’s passage seems an appropriate way to close:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. . . And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed (Rom 13:8,11).

This is change we can believe in.

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