Putin, Manning, the NSA’s Verizon, Pop Tarts, Drones, and Me
by Luke Welch
Yesterday, Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced on state television that they are divorcing. Sometimes politicians hold these things together. But Putin’s 30 year marriage is ending. And so some argument or division that has been private within them now for who knows the length of time, is bubbling to the surface. And now we all know it.
Speaking of the former USSR, do you remember the KGB? How they used to read people’s mail? That used to be scary, but now it’s the cost of living without fear of imminent doom.
Speaking of imminent doom, it sure seems like the cap-gun and Pop Tart pistol patrolling has gotten out of hand. These school administrations must know something we don’t about the deep dark motives of 8 year olds. It may not have been a simple gun. It might have been that the Pop Tart resembled Idaho where you can carry a rifle over your shoulder in town. A child like that needs help. Or maybe they know something we don’t.
Well, this week in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the court-martial of Bradley Manning began. Manning is charged with revealing deep, dark heart issues of the United States military to the general public on the internet.
And on the same plot of land, separated by a Burger King and a commissary, is the National Security Administration. The NSA, it has been revealed, is sucking the deep, dark heart issues out of the general public through the internet and cell phones.
We might be enraged, “because,” we ask ourselves, “why does the US Government need to know if some girl is texting her boyfriend instead of listening in science class?” We might, but we have our own ways of dealing with deep dark motives; for example: Speaking of schools and deep dark heart issues, Anne Arundel County is the same county where little Josh Welch (of no relation) fashioned a Pop Tart into a finely crafted weapon of mass consumption at school. Okay. It was indeed in the shape of a gun. And maybe he said “bang.” But if the government could just listen a little louder and faster, maybe they would have been able to have him suspended before he even chewed the Pop Tart. I mean, think about that! And then we would all be safer.
The school incident displays rash, surface judgement which has nothing to do with any real deep and dark heart motives in little boys. But someone here in Anne Arundel county thought that Hans Blix needed to search the lunch bags.
This fake symptom cleansing is the same thing that makes us think we can get society healthier by having doctors’ offices poll kids with strep over whether daddy has any guns. And the fruit of this society is an administration that drones on about keeping the least-of-these safe from bullets while sending robot video games over to tear the faces off of those kids over there …somewhere.
If you’re easily upset, don’t google image search “drones children.”
And that’s the same kind of thing that was shown in the initial video leaked by Bradley Manning. Innocents killed by us. It’s amazing we haven’t heard of more kids suspended for making paper airplanes. You know?
And the Pop Tart’s rash rush to ensuring safety is very different from the phone and internet KGB scandal du jour, which is anything but rash. It is long term, and calculated, and a continuation of the Bush FISA activity that “conservatives” were worried about losing five years ago. This week, in the NSA KGBgate, nothing happened. It just bubbled to the surface. They didn’t start anything this week, and they aren’t stopping anything this week. But now we know.
We also now know more assuredly than before that they know more of what we know. And they know more about our deep heart motives.
Speaking of little children, this reminds me that when I discipline one of my children, the words that I use to describe their sin usually sounds eerily close to describing something in myself that they are completely unaware of. Were they selfish? I can see it in myself five minutes before. Were they arrogant? I remember my recent pride.
This doesn’t mean I can’t correct them, but it does mean I should not expect God to bless me with growing obedience in them if I point at them and refuse to be examined as well. Part of their planting for wisdom is being near streams of living water. I have to be living water if they are to thrive in my home. God could make a tree to flourish in the desert, but I am pretty sure he usually allows trees in drought to be dry and die out. So If I want to be self important, I can show them how wrong they are and act like I have no sin. But that would be lying. Then they will ultimately grow up to be liars who are good at arrogant, self-deceived accusation of people with smaller bits of wood in their eyes. If I want to have children who repent, I have to give them a father who repents and shows them humlity.
In cases where it is appropriate, I find it very helpful to say, I must teach you that God doesn’t like what you did, and that means I am judged as well, because I just did the same thing. I am acting like a fool, and I don’t want you to be a fool. I will tell God I am wrong, and then you can do the same.
King David had a very private sin, Bathsheba: a lust that he picked up on the rooftop. Though she belonged to his friend, he brought her to his room. And his secrecy begat more secrecy and more sin. And then Nathan the Prophet came to him and told him to look in the mirror and see who he saw. He told a story that fingered a villain of obvious sin – making David angry. That is when it was revealed to David, by the prophet, that this man in the mirror….is you. You are the man.
And then God’s consequences came, and David’s children played out literally on the rooftops what David had merely picked up on the rooftops. David had then whispered in secret, but Absalom was screaming guilt for David’s house from the vantage point of all Israel. What had been secret came bubbling to the surface, and, you know, that’s what happens.
So, it’s okay to chide the nation. It’s okay to teach the nation what Godliness is. But if the church wants to change the nation into a godly grown-up, then the church needs to be willing to self-examine. If we are harboring sin, and won’t confess and repent, then we will only teach the nation to become better at lying.
I am not accusing any one church of deceit; and I am certainly not mocking christians for having righteous opinions. But I do think that the state of the union is a mirror to our own deep, dark heart issues.
And judging by the currentest scandal, which is not a small issue that will just pass us by, but is a long-term wickedness that did not begin this week and won’t go away next week… judging by that, I would say that there is a well known sin that involves secrecy, and the internet, and telephones of which we ought to repent if we ever want to see any kind of national liberty again. But way more important than liberty of country is liberty of heart. Better a broken man with a thriving family than a man who hid his sins only to lose his wife or find his children have learned likewise to trust in themselves instead of Jesus. Better a police state and converted neighbors than a respectful lack of repentance. And what’s to lose? Thriving families and Jesus at your neighbor’s house means peace for you as well.
But we really have to deal with sin first. And Jesus already knows what you do in secret, without conferring with the NSA.
What we do in secret being shouted from the rooftops, as Jesus warned, is not, I think, about the future fear that in heaven a big screen will display all our filthy choices. But it may refer to temporal judgment falling on us. It may be a mirror to say, “Hey David, you are that man!” It may just come bubbling up. Especially since, you know, the government is recording stuff. They might, in this case, be the big screen, especially if a man continues in hardness of heart.
But if you have made it this far in the reading, I want to assure you that there is a remedy for sin: Jesus actually died to take away sin – the just for the unjust. And if you are willing to say, I am indeed that man, then Jesus is offering you freedom. Jesus was used as a mirror once, when Israel had reached the depths of national sin. When asked if they wanted freedom, they said, no give us that murderer, Barabbas. And then Pilate, unwittingly playing Nathan, brought the mirror of Jesus out before them and said, “Behold, this is the man.” And then he sent him to die. Israel was being shown that they desrved to die. We deserve the same.
Jesus was crucified, and on the third day rose again. And his resurrection calls us to worship him as the glorious king and Son of God that he is. When we come to worship the Father, the Son and the Spirit, we don’t come casually; rather, we come through letting God take us and crucify us. We die with Jesus, and we live a new life as his people. And we are actually promised an actual resurrection.
You might even have deep dark secrets that you are afraid will never scrub out of your skin. There is hope for you: when you belong to Jesus, you know that one day you will, after natural death, get up in new life again in the resurrection. In that life, you will literally never have committed your dark shame. If you need forgiveness, you can have forgiveness now, and promise of full freedom in the resurrection. And in the mean time, if you are his, you can live life in light of that resurrected promise of freedom.
And part of the freedom we have as believers is the freedom to call sin sin, even when it is in ourselves. We become unafraid to ask God to search us and to know us, and to try us and to know our thoughts, and to see if, perchance, there be any grievous way in us.
That’s how we get to the repentance that our nation needs if we are to have any hope of change. God must lead us in the way first, if he is to lead the nation in the way everlasting.