Everybody’s talking about it. The U.S. government shut down this week. My conservative friends are outraged. My liberal friends are outraged. My moderate friends are outraged. Safe to say- we are all outraged by this.
I am decidedly not a political person. I don’t follow politics closely. I probably should. But on days like today, and weeks like this week- I am so glad I invest very little in all of it.
But here’s what I do know: when you work for an organization that is responsible for taking care of the least of these, guiding the masses to a more just and ordered existence, and living in to your call as a leader and a steward of other people’s resources—you cannot shut down.
This could be the government. This could be The Church.
In The Church, there are times when I feel so convicted about actions being taken ‘in the name of The Church’ that I believe we should shut down. When Westboro Baptist pickets funerals, or preachers spew hate from the pulpit, or “Christians” tear down their neighbors because of our differences in: gender, race, sexuality, or abilities- I desperately want to suggest that we close up shop and SHUT DOWN simply based on my principals and beliefs.
And in The Church- there are times when I am so outraged when I see fellow church leaders sabotaging our work for wholeness, holiness, grace, and mercy- that I want to point fingers, I want to blame. I want to protest.
But at the end of the day- before I let myself get lost in the shallow, bitter conflicts of being the Church in a broken world- I try to remember our purpose.
The church is simply a human-made, flawed structure. And even with its flaws and weaknesses, at the heart of the church, we are called to create spaces of grace. The church aims to provide services to all people, food for the hungry, shelter for the needy, justice for the meek, and safety for the least of these.
I believe in the mission of the Church too much to allow my own convictions and personal grievances to shut it down. I am not willing to compromise all the services and lifelines the church offers even when the actions and inactions of the church embarrass me, devastate me and make me want to rise up in protest.
I read a letter written by a little girl who lost the opportunity to go to a National Park on a school field trip this week because of the government shut down. Her letter suggested that congress and the president try to sit down and negotiate a resolution to their conflict the way she and her classmates do in the 3rd grade.
My prayer is the same.
If I could say one thing to all those in this conflict:
From one leader in a human-made, flawed structure to others: Please, get back to work.