Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Joy Robbers and Shallow Presidential Standards

President Obama is a fan of the NFL and is a very passionate fan of college basketball.  During these seasons he (or at least the autobot that puts together his tweets) has been known to throw out a few tweets about the NFL.  Here recently he tweeted about the MNF debacle and the replacement refs. 

To this I saw several snarky responses that implied the President’s priorities are all jacked up.  How is he worrying about football when we have a 16 trillion dollar debt?  How can he fill out a college basketball bracket when we are fighting for peace in foreign countries?  Bring the troops home and then tell us how you picked North Carolina. 

Now I do not care to comment on the President’s policies or his priorities in specific.  You can find a political blog to talk those points to death.  Here I want to reflect on how such an attitude can rob us of joy.  Furthermore, I want to see how such a joy is really detrimental to the life of a leader. 

The assumption behind those snarky responses is that caring about the poor, our debt, and world peace is somehow mutually exclusive to watching and commenting on a blown call on Monday Night Football.  It’s also a ridiculous double standard that these peeps would find the time to a comment on Twitter while people are starving to death around the world.  Why, dear sir, are you not turning off your computer and grilling some burgers for the homeless in your neck of the woods?  Your priorities are all jacked up.

The Jesus Way

It seems to me that Jesus was on occasion a befuddlement to people in his day because of this very issue.  If He is who He says He is, then why in the world is he having a party at a tax collectors house?  Why is he allowing expensive nard to be poured out upon him when that could have been spent on the poor?  Your priorities are messed up, Jesus. 

In Jared Wilson’s new book, Gospel Deeps, he says, “if holiness makes you a sourpuss, you’re doing it wrong.”  Reflecting on the power of the gospel to transform our joy and C.S. Lewis’ use of the term quiddity Wilson says,

If steak or wine or coffee or chocolate or anything else other than God is the highlight of my day or the ultimate joy of my heart, my joy is temporary, hollow, thin.  But if I believe in the gospel, I can finally enjoy the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee.  Only the gospel frees me to enjoy things as they truly now are and as they someday will be.  (Gospel Deeps, 91)

Yes, we continue to mourn the fact that we are under the weight of 16 trilion in debt, that wars happen, that people starve, etc.  The Lord is grieved by these things just as He was grieved by many things when he walked on the sands of this broken earth.  Yet, there was something about Jesus that was able to enjoy nard-soaked worship even while people were hungry.  I don’t know how that’s possible at times but I do know that it’s commanded.  And I know that an inability to enjoy a sunset is probably a reflection of a deeper-seated inability to dance in the accomplishments of the gospel.

Now please don’t hear me say that I believe President Obama is somehow following the Jesus Way and that he is able to watch college basketball because He has greater joy in Jesus.  That’s not my point.  My point isn’t to say that President Obama is correct—after all he may very well be fiddling while Rome burns—but my point is to say that the snarky rebukes aren’t necessarily correct either, in fact they are deadly to leaders.

For Leaders

If you are a leader that cannot find yourself commenting on a blown call on Monday Night Football because the world’s problems are too pressing it might be possible that you aren’t more holy but less holy.  It might be that you are convinced that you are the solution to the 16 trillion dollar debt and therefore how can you sleep.  Pastors can be tempted into thinking that they are the solution to the marital problems within their church, the financial troubles, the numbers issues, the lack of discipleship, etc.  But you aren’t.  Jesus is. 

To think that you are too important to enjoy a Monday Night Football game is arrogant.  And to imply that a world leader is flitting away his time because at 11:30 at night he turned on the television and ponders a blown call probably reveals either a subtle idolatry or a deep seated bitterness. 

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