I’ve lived long enough to have been impressed by several things I have seen, heard or felt but recently I attended a series of talks by Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church called Recovery-Road and was overwhelmed at how simple changing our nation’s direction might be. Many times, we look at religion through the filter of our politics but Andy believes that if every Christian viewed politics through the filter of faith we could put aside our labels and approach the opportunity we all now have as Christians to take the country in a different direction.
The essence of the messages, which you can access at Recovery Road is that when we hear of a wealthy individual or country that has gone bankrupt, we often think, “If I had that money or owned that company, I would have done …..” so when we hear America is bankrupt we can barely believe the richest country in the world could be in trouble and our comments become, “If I was in charge or if I was in Congress…”
But Andy believes our country’s problems stem not from a lack of prosperity but from an abusive of prosperity. He says we have a discipline problem as a country; a country that doesn’t like to hear, “no”; a country that reaches into the future and leverages it for what we want today; a country spoiled to believe we should all have what we all want, whether rich, poor or middle class. We have a greed problem and believe what we have is for our consumption and we have a “failure of nerve” problem meaning that those running the country know what they need to do but don’t want to face the consequences to do it. But similarly, as a parent, or professional, student or human being, we have all often known what we should do and still have not done it.
Hearing this, we are apt to blame the Democrats, Republicans, tea party or no party people but we seldom realize each one of us has behaved similarly with an abuse of prosperity, sense of entitlement, greed and failure of nerve in our lives and it has a domino effect.
We have worked hard to make dreams come true for everyone, such as making it possible for everyone to own a home, buy things they want, get an education, own a car, etc, but the good intentions caused those of us never in a position to have everything we want to charge, layaway, refinance, mortgage, attend the best of schools and live lifestyles we might never have had. When the bottom drops out, everyone loses from those at the top to those at the bottom.He talked about how our culture advocates using the future to live in the present and makes a strong point that we have become a nation that pays interest rather than makes interest Recovery Road Part 5
We have allowed ourselves to be part of a bandwagon that we did not even realize we climbed on until it was far down the road we weren’t planning to travel. Andy thought perhaps the 12 Step Recovery program similar to the one individuals addicted to behaviors take should be done by individuals, families, communities and even as a country because the one step of “taking a fearless moral inventory” would allow us to own our personal responsibility rather than assume we could recover by blaming others. Andy says that partial ownership will never allow us to recover, but we must look at our own behavior and assess what we personally need to do to recover and he encourages us to expect our leaders to be without reproach because they represent us and asks that we expect any candidate to first be morally responsible before they cater to special interest groups. (Recovery Road Part 3) Andy has several strategies for how to deal with the current crisis in America but one thing he did observe is that we need to stop voting for individuals who promise no more increase in taxes, no cutbacks in programs, no change in entitlements because to vote for those who promise that is to vote for a lie. but he also reminds us that recovery begins with “we not with they”.
Having recently visited a far poorer nation, I realize that growing up in America has made me assume I should have more, better, bigger and newer. I think comfortable and peaceful should be expected just because I do live in the richest nation. I don’t have a spending problem, I have a greed problem….I want it all. Don’t you?
Changing America will cost all of us something. It will mean each of us will need to leverage what abundance or little we have to recover. It will mean we may need to open our hands from what we assume is ours trusting God to do with it want He wants.It sounds Pollyanna but really what I came away with is that recovering as a nation does really begin with each individual. For me, it means realizing that I already have more than I need even on the days I feel that I have less. It means reflecting more intently on whether I have “wants” or “needs” and it means realizing I can hold on to my time, resources, experiences, or influence because it is mine or I can be less greedy with the “goods” I have and recognize recovery of this nation begins with me, step by step, bit by bit, day by day, decision by decision.
Look at your money. It says, “In God we trust”. Perhaps if each of us took a long look at how we contributed to where we are we could begin the walk back to where we need to be. Andy says, “Recovery begins with we not with they.” Are you ready for your fearless moral inventory?