Culture At Large

How Congress and Christians share a perception problem

Jerod Clark

Facing all-time low approval ratings, the new U.S. Congress has a huge challenge in rebuilding their image.  In a profession once looked at as honorable, members of Congress are now looked at as money-hungry bickerers who don’t really care about taking care of the American people.  That stigma is probably why I was so compelled by what newly crowned Speaker of the House John Boehner said during the opening day of the new session.  He told members of Congress:

The people voted to end business as usual and today we begin to carry out their instructions…The American people have humbled us.  They have refreshed our memories to just how temporary the privilege of serving is. They've reminded us that everything here is on loan from them.

Wow.  What if those words were actually put into practice? You’d find a legislature focused on the Christian ideal of serving others.  What if members of Congress really thought of their time as limited and looked at law making as a rare privilege?  That would be real change, right?

Predictably and unfortunately, soon after those words were spoken, the House of Representatives found themselves in a time-wasting fight about the reading of the Constitution.  Republicans and Democrats got in a verbal brouhaha about which parts of the guiding document were and weren’t read on the floor of the House.  It wasn’t really the change in tone I was hoping for.

But this gets me thinking about how we often live out our lives as Christians.  Deep down, we know that everything we have is from God.  And we know that life on earth is a temporary time to serve God however we can.  But how often do we act like members of Congress and shuffle that information off to the side and act in a different way?  We get so concerned about ourselves that we’re really not caring about others.  And honestly, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

You can look at the local church, too.  I’ve seen so many congregations get excited about reaching out to their community one week and then never do anything to follow through.  Look where it’s got us as Christians.  More and more people look at the church as irrelevant to their daily lives.  We’ve lost our place as a respectable place to turn to for answers.

I only bring this up because I think we have a great opportunity as Christians.  If we embrace the idea of service in our lives, truly reaching out and caring for people in small or big ways, popular culture would see the good difference Christianity offers.  God has given us the privilege of sharing His message for our limited time on earth.  Let’s be humbled by that and embrace it.  Just as Congress could make a major impact if they focused on serving, so can we.

What do you think?  Do we act like members of Congress too often?  Do you see a similar problem in your church or circle or friends?  What have you done to change the perception culture has of you as a Christian?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Faith, Evangelism, News & Politics, North America