Updated: Jan 31
In the readings today, we find Jeremiah instructing the exiled Jews to pray for the welfare of Babylon, because their welfare depended on God’s blessings upon the land where His faithful lived.
Then, we find Paul in exile, of sorts, imprisoned and bound with chains, but praying to Timothy to see the blessing that his words were free … to be placed on paper and leave that confined space. The welfare of the churches to which Paul wrote was blessed by God, through the prayers of His faithful servant.
Then, we find Jesus healing a group of ten lepers, instructing them to go present themselves to the priests so they can be inspected and allowed back inside with the normal people. Their states of exile, as sinners with physical maladies, had been removed; but in this process, only one leper came back to thank Jesus. That one was one of those lowest of the low Jews, a Samaritan. Because of his faith maintained, even in exile, and because of his faith causing him to act with praise before he could return to be normal again, he was given welfare.
The definition of “welfare” is, “Health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being.” It also means, “Prosperity.” Still, it means, “Financial and other aid provided, especially by the government, to people in need.” Combine a few definitions and you come up with “Health aid provided to people in need.”
In the news these days has been talk of a government shutdown, largely due to efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act, which is said to not be affordable. This is a topic that has touched many emotional nerve-endings, causing uproars – against those who want it defunded, and against those who see insurmountable debt as a necessary evil. All the uproar is because the act is based on giving welfare to those who cannot afford welfare.
To sum that up another way – the lepers of our society, those who cannot afford to have the pains of their lesions, sores, and deformities lessened, by the doctors and hospitals that demand guarantees of payment up front, they want Jesus to meet them along the road to Washington, D.C., and say, “Go and show yourselves to the government officials so that as you go, you will be given welfare.”
The only problem with this is we have removed God from the mix. There is no faith in God that will make healthcare affordable.
There is only faith in a form of idol worship, where we bow our heads and pray to the government for help.
“Help us, oh government, to find welfare.”
“Help us, oh government, to find the way to afford welfare.”
“Help us, oh government, to keep from shutting down and stopping the services we have become dependent upon.”
“Help us, oh government, to not go bankrupt from national debt and end up being like third-world nations, full of misery.”
As much as our government loves the idea of playing god, and as much as people of all political-party persuasions love to have faith in one-sided government, the end result will always be just like what happened to every nation in Biblical times … those who worshipped some Ba’al.
That result is still valid today. Nothing of truth ever happens. Only self-healing problems ever get fixed. The rich always get richer, the poor always get poorer, and the lepers are always still left on the outside of the temple, wishing they could get in.
If this were truly a Christian nation … meaning a democracy truly existed … where the vast majority ruled as Christians (said to be over 70% of 350-million total) … AND that majority actually demanded their representatives run the government as Christians … knowing Jesus Christ would have great disdain for any government that would be used as a means for a minority of governors to profit by means of corruption and greed … then the words of Paul to Timothy could actually guide our views on healthcare.
“If we have died of something we could not afford preventing, and if we were all that time dying with Jesus Christ, then we know we will live with Jesus Christ in our hearts, regardless of what afflictions we suffer.”
We know that, “If we endure through all the suffering, then we will also run our government with God as the ultimate motivator, knowing that to save a day of life on earth is to prevent a day one could be in Heaven.”
We above all realize that, “If we deny Jesus Christ as the one who we must honor in all our actions, personal and public, then Jesus Christ will leave us alone to make our own beds to sleep in. If we choose to pretend we have control over our own lives, which we do whenever we allow our governors to act as gods, we can only expect miracles from flawed minds.”
Instead of watching the media present politicians … live or broadcast by some means …
who quarrel noisily, or angrily, and who bicker to win or obtain a point through argument (the definition of “wrangling”) …
who use words that do no good, but only ruin those who listen to them (the words of Paul) …
we should act as Christians … by paying them no attention.
We should present ourselves to others as ones who are approved by God. We do this openly, to prove we do not feel ashamed by presenting ourselves as dedicated to God, through Jesus Christ (more words of Paul).
But, then, sadly, we are not a Christian nation;
and thus we need to realize the meanings of the readings this week – as every week. We need to see ourselves in every aspect of the readings.
As such, we are exiles in a foreign land. The United States of America is a land of Natives and Immigrants. While we are natives, we are foreigners, just as were the Jews who were born in exile in Babylon. Because we are strangers in our own land (a separated from religion nation), at any time, we can be the persecuted (as foreign Christians) and the persecutors (as established Christians).
For every stone we throw, it always hits us – like a boomerang – regardless of how much collateral damage we inflict in that process.
Therefore, if you want welfare for yourself, then pray for the land where God has sent you as an exile, as an immigrant, as a homeland, regardless of how long you have lived here. No matter how many children you have raised in this place, no matter how interbred with the populace you have become.
Pray to the LORD on behalf of the United States of America …
so that IT – more than a part of its people or only a few of its sects – as a whole can find welfare … welfare in its truest meaning, as a grace from God through faith.
We must all understand the works of God, and how wonderful he is in his love toward all people, regardless of their state of existence. We must see the beauty of having our faith tested and proved, tried just as is silver, understanding that God has brought us into this snare for a reason, and God is who has laid heavy burdens upon our backs, such as addiction to anger and being plagued by economic demands, so we might realize when we have become godless.
Just as God sent his people into to exile in Babylon, he has sent us to here, now, with a purpose we should celebrate, whether or not we know why. We must pray for our land to be blessed by God, because those who remain true to Christ are imprisoned here.
We need to see ourselves as prisoners in chains, as slaves to lesser masters than God, in all phases of life. Because all life is interconnected, we cannot move others by will, lest others willingly move us.
We must also see ourselves as freedmen and women, quite capable of ruling over a nation that consists of, in totality, a citizenry of ONE – oneself and only oneself. Each of us is an island nation for Christ and God, each of us the President and Congress presiding over our welfare and actions. As such, we should realize we have the freedom to worship Jesus Christ and God all we want, at our pleasure and leisure, because our ability to worship is beyond a legal right.
Our love in our hearts and our thoughts in our minds are always beyond any legislative restrictions, because legislative restrictions only apply in external places. We must see the beauty in the ugliness that surrounds us, as God and Christ are sights for sore eyes. We must realize that no temporary respite to our earthly woes is worth the sacrifice of one iota of heavenly reward, as promised by God, as the price of faith and acts in support of that faith.
No political-speak, no double-talk, no talking points, no hidden agendas will ever best what we know is right and what is truth, says the LORD.
We need to see ourselves as those approaching Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, and not only as those who follow Jesus. Therefore, we are lepers in need of help, as well as witnesses to the fearless dedication to God that Jesus displayed.
Just as we needed to see ourselves a couple of weeks ago as Lazarus, full of sores at the gate of the rich man, we also needed to play the role of the rich man, capable of recognizing Lazarus or ignoring him. We had to realize just how covered with lesions and sores we are, due to our inadequacies of faith. We must realize it is us who need to be healed, because it requires being like Jesus Christ to work miracles.
When we walk in faith, we will be cleaned of our leprosy. This means that we bring on leprosy because of a lack of a faith … a failure made by any individual unwilling to walk as Christ and God commands one to walk.
We give thanks to God when God gives us what we want … sometimes.
But how often do we run to show ourselves off to others, forgetting to give thanks first?
How many of us give thanks when we still have leprosy, and have not yet been cleaned?
Those who do give thanks first, they may go on their way knowing their faith has made them well.
That is a God-given state of welfare that will never go bankrupt.