Thursday, September 08, 2005

The price of worshipping idols


It is disappointing, although not surprising, that a full day did not pass after hurricane Katrina hit before the politicians began pointing fingers. The opportunity to cover one's backside or make political hay from the situation was just too much to resist for far too many.

The Democrats, of course, blame the Bush administration for what they perceive as an abject failure on the part of the federal government. The Republicans, in turn, blame the City of New Orleans and Louisiana (both of which have been under Democratic leadership for decades) for inadequate emergency plans. One side claims racism played a part in the slow response of the federal government. The other side points out that decades of welfare have made thousands of people literally incapable of taking care of themselves at any level.

Whichever the case, the fact remains that hundreds of people have died and thousands more have lost homes and businesses. There is a debate firing up as to what, exactly, the government's responsibility is toward it's citizens in situations like this. What can't be debated is that many, many citizens feel they were promised certain services from the government which they did not receive.

Which raises the question of where one should place one's faith. According to the Bible our faith should be in God alone. But far too many Americans don't do that.

It reminds me of the prophets of Baal. They had their faith in a god born of their own imaginations. A god they created to serve their own purposes. Ultimately, as the contest with Elijah revealed, their god was completely insufficient to help them.

Americans don't worship Baal. But we've come to worship a god of our own making. Our idol, in America, is America. And it becomes evident, when real tragedy strikes, that our idol is insufficient. Like Baal, America falls short. We'd be much better off placing our faith back in God alone. We should live by the guidelines laid out in Scripture. We should realize that we need to be self-sufficient when we can (2 Thessalonians 3:10) and share one another's burdens when we can't hack it ourselves (Galatians 6:2).

The best examples of these two principles have been seen along the Gulf coast in the people who didn't wait around for the idle (idol) government to come rescue them. Apparently there were enough people there who were not so foolish as to invest their faith in the government, and those who have had their needs met by such people can thank God for them.

As for the Christian relief efforts, meeting the needs of these people is a priority. But, as always, the glory goes to God.

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