The issues that face America as outlined in President Obama’s State of the Union address last week are, at their core, issues of the heart. Two wars may have contributed to our deficit but it was the heart of man that created the wars themselves. It was greed that began the mess on Wall Street and greed that brought about the downturn in the housing market. The need of the hour is a call to place our faith not in government but in God.
At key moments in history, America’s presidents would call upon God. Most notable are the times in which America was in crisis and marked by change. Abraham Lincoln spoke of being driven many times to his knees by, “the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.
My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for that day.” On April 12, 1945, one day after Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral, President Harry Truman concluded his first address before a joint session of Congress with these words, “At this moment I have in my heart a prayer. As I assume my heavy duties, I humbly pray to Almighty God in the words of King Solomon, ‘Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge this Thy so great a people?’ I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.” President Truman knew that the strength of our Union would be found in calling upon God’s wisdom.
The issues outlined in the State of the Union Address are not new. They are as old as the scriptures. The Bible addresses:
1. Jobs: “…the laborer is worthy of his wages.” Luke 10:7
2. Equality: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
3. Responsibility: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17
4. Unity: “…a house divided against itself will fail.” Luke 11:17
5. Civility: “Come now, let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18
6. Environment: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it…” Psalm 24:1
7. Freedom: “…proclaim liberty throughout the land to all of its inhabitants…” Leviticus 25:10
8. Human Dignity: “So God created man in his own image.” Genesis 1:27
9. Corporate Greed: “Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him.” Leviticus 19:13
10. Values: “…Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
President Obama is right in stating that these are not ordinary times and we will not overcome our challenges by ordinary measures. Even as President Ronald Reagan called the nation to the principles of God by declaring 1983 as the national “Year of the Bible,” America now needs leadership with the audacity to call America back to God. The scriptures declare, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Rev. Bill Shuler is pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia.