February 21, 2011
Dear Marketplace Friend,
Yet another Monday “off,” if you work in an environment that regards holidays as sacrosanct. In an act of efficiency, we’ve declared the third Monday of February as Presidents Day in America, to honor George Washington… and the 43 men who followed him in the office.
In America, a president’s best day is usually the day he is elected; popular support often slips from there to the political equivalent of Death Valley. Do the job well, and you may get another 48 months; lose your grip, and you’re finished, in less time than most people spend today in college.
And that’s presidenting at its best. In Egypt, presidents don’t have to mess with sticky things like term limits and opinion polls. Hosni Mubarak had a concise résumé: Egyptian Air Force officer, then President of Egypt. During his thirty years in office, he is reputed to have amassed $40-$70 billion in personal fortune (couldn’t be corruption; it’s probably the result of a well-managed 401(k) plan and clean living). In Egypt, it seems that every day was presidents day…
Allow me a timeless teaching moment, would you? God has no holidays; in His system, every day is a “holy day” (the root of our “holiday”). He would have us living in a holy way, every day. What does that mean as it applies to life as citizens, whether we’re Christians in Cleveland, or Cairo?
Listen to Peter’s counsel: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:9-17)
That’s easier if you’re in Los Angeles than it is if you’re in Libya today, isn’t it? And, as Americans, we find it easier when the person/party of our preference occupies the Commander in Chief position than it is when the “other side” has its turn. When you’re still flashing the bumper sticker of the current POTUS (that’s Secret Service code for President of the United States), of course you “submit for the Lord’s sake!” The killer command is to “honor the king” when he isn’t the king you wanted!
I don’t know if your “first choice” won the last election, or if he/she didn’t even make the ballot in the last go-around, but whoever’s calling the shots, our posture for the duration of their term is the same: salute, and “do good.” Why? “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men…”
Foolish men appear constantly as talking-heads on national news and cable programs. They have various favorite targets; outspoken Christians are an easy mark for many. How should we be acting if/when things aren’t going our way? How can we get our opponents to go silent?
Peter was echoing the challenge of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount: “… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
I trust your Presidents Day holiday was rejuvenating. May your Citizens Day holy day – every day – be illuminating…