Yesterday I was listening to NPR—which is a sin in some camps but I still love it—and there was an amazing piece on the Debt Commission and their upcoming recommendations to Congress and the President. The reporter for the piece was Mara Liasson. As a note, she’d better watch out because I think she sometimes works for FOX and I don’t want her to get Juaned.
The piece (http://www.npr.org/2010/12/02/131747243/Debt-Commission-Recommends-Shared-Sacrifices) was short, but poignant and interesting; in a human nature kind of way. In summary, it put forward the notion that everyone agrees the national debt must be curtailed, but no one really supported any specifics to stop the spending. It would be as if everyone knew that the car needed to get an oil change but the people in the car couldn’t agree on where to do it, how to pay for it, or what time to schedule it. As a result, the car will eventually stall.
The best summary of the situation was not by an elected official but by a business person:
Mr. DAVE COTE (CEO, Honeywell): We’re being watched by countries who consider us past our prime because we can no longer rally as Americans to accomplish the tough things. As a country, we need to stop the demagoguing, where everyone just runs to their neutral corner and yells and screams at the other guys.
Now, here is what interests me. I see the same instinct in families, individuals, and churches. People recognize that their spending is out of control but there is absolutely no will-power to make the changes necessary to stop it. A family, for example, sees the need to stop credit card spending and makes big decisions to get out of debt but then instead of eating what is in the fridge for dinner they decide to ‘splurge’ and go out to eat. How do they pay for it? What’s in your wallet?
This Sunday I am scheduled to preach on Jesus and the issue of poverty as a part of my Advent ELEVATION sermon series. One of the things I hope to point out (SPOILER ALERT) is that money is never the real problem nor is it the real solution. Money is really only a symptom.
Our nation’s debt is parallel to most folk’s personal debt problem. It’s not an issue of how much is coming in but of the inability to make hard choices and prioritize spending. The root of the problem is undisciplined living.
That is what Mr. Cote was trying to say about our nation. We’ve lost the will-power to make the hard choices and do the right kinds of things. Now for the bow-tie finish where it all comes together. Perhaps our nation’s incredible, lamentable and unprecedented financial debt is a symptom of our incredible, lamentable and unprecedented spiritual apathy. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there is definitely some kind of connection there and that is before I ever get started the strong New Testament connection between “debt” and “sin.” I’ll save that for another day.