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Responsibility for self is neither self-preservation nor self-interest

Published 9:30am Thursday, April 4, 2013

By Rev. Jonathan Yarboro
Greetings from the corner of Bridge and Bridge! I bring you glorious Easter greetings! I also hope the excitement and energy of the day carries forward for us all for many days to come.
The season of Lent has come to a close for this year, but you and I should not put the lessons learned out of our hearts and minds. Lent, the season for introspection and spiritual growth, has a set beginning and end on the calendar. God’s ongoing revelation does not.
I have become significantly disillusioned with the current state of our country’s political process. I know I am not alone. Political posturing continues to rise as concern for the common good falls. Fortunately for us all, there is no one party or politician to blame. There are examples of ineffective governing everywhere.
Holy Week and Easter celebrations are central to Christian faith. They follow a period of intense self examination, reflection, and repentance. It is from the positions of humility, service, and mortality that Christians are asked to remember the events of Jesus’ last week of earthly ministry and subsequent resurrection.
This pattern of behavior makes perfect sense if you think about it. How much more fulfilling would any human being’s life be if they took it seriously? How much more spiritually sound would any person’s life be if they seriously examined their own misgivings and then immersed themselves in the story of ultimate servanthood?
How much stronger would our nation be if those who serve as its leaders engaged in the same activity? In reality, many do. Many people serving in positions of leadership at every level of government work diligently to embody the spirit of service to others faith teaches. Unfortunately, some do not.
Displaying the Ten Commandments in public places will not cure what is ailing our world. Restoring prayer in school will not either. Both measures have merit, but they miss the larger issue; one raised in powerful form on Easter Sunday morning.
Everyone who stands on this side of the cross must recognize that the only thing any of us has any control over is ourselves. Jesus’ earthly ministry demonstrates this fact to the whole of human creation. Jesus never tried to force anyone else to do anything. Jesus lived the Golden Rule before he offered it to the rest of us.
If you and I want our world, at any level, to be different, we have to do things differently ourselves. We all have a responsibility to do our best at whatever we are doing, to treat others as we would like to be treated, to acknowledge our imperfection and to turn to God for guidance.
If we take responsibility for our own actions first and foremost, we stand the best chance of empowering our world to be what God intends it to be. If we confuse God’s call and act first out of self-interest or self-preservation, we empower human design. There are times when the two are concurrent, but more often than not they oppose one another.
Jesus did not give hand-outs. Jesus gave hands up. Jesus met people where they were, resisted the seat of judgment, and offered the power of God’s redemptive love. This strategy can work for us all, no matter how any of us share our God-given gifts. Think about it.

The Rev. Jonathan Yarboro is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka.

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