4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Isn't it amazing when you think about Jesus, that if he had been like us, he would have declined the invitation to come and save us? Instead, he would have pursued his 'own interests', as some of us have been guilty of doing for centuries!
The reason for most of America's problems around the world is due to America's narrowly focused philosophy of pursuing only 'its interests, as our political leaders are often wont to explain. Consider what would happen if everyone in the world were to pursue only their interests, as many Americans and our federal government is accustomed to doing?
Is there enough wealth in America to satisfy the needs of every American? Yes, but the wealth of America is unevenly distributed!
Part I: My Interests or Their and God's Interests:
I have to disagree with most Americans, even some that I respect, and the method that they employ when they decide on who or what issues to vote for or against; it is incumbent upon me to do so.
My position is that you should not vote strictly 'for your interests'. That is by and large the reason that the United States, if not the world is in the condition that it is in today. Selfish ambition and having become singularly focused, have divorced most Americans, it would seem, from sound reasoning, care about one's fellow human beings or God's Will!
A scriptural injunction: Proverbs Chapter 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
1. You should not vote for a man, simply because you are chauvinist or misogynist!
2. You should not vote for a female, because you are a female.
3. You should not vote for a candidate, depending on the race, religion or political affiliation of a candidate.
4. You should not vote out of hate.
5. And as the scripture reads, your motivations should never be based on self-interest.
If the average, greedy, self-centered American could somehow escape from or transcend his or her own egocentrisms, put aside self-centerdness, lust and greed, they would place the more pressing needs of their fellow human beings above their own interests, and trenchant desires for more conspicuous consumption(s). On the other hand, Americans should advocate for the needs of others, recognizing that there are other citizens who have needs that are superior to their own, and their needs ought to, finally, be met first!
There is an interesting nuanced story in scripture (See John Chapter 5), that can be taught from many perspectives. The story begs the question, should I look out for me first and step on whoever gets in my way in order to get what I want first? Or should I place the needs of others, like Jesus did, before my own interests?
Here is an uncommon way to look at this story. A man who had been unable to stand and walk for 38 years was carried to the pool at Bethesda and 'parked in the handicapped zone'. According to tradition, an angel would come down on an annualized basis and empower the waters that were in this pool for healing.
Now the catch was that only the first person who managed to get into the pool, near Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate, would be healed.
And what do you suppose would happen each year? First of all there would have been those individuals who lined up in the manner that Americans did recently when Microsoft released the latest XBOX 360. Those folks, like some Americans are accustomed to doing, were coming in a week ahead of time in order to get their place in line.
These individuals wanted to be the first to be healed, just as some Americans want to be first so that they can annoy the rest of us with their boring stories, with regard to, 'I was one of the first to get a XBox 360 (in deference to someone who needed to be helped, clothed or fed)'.
I can't imagine why anyone would want an XBox 360 anyway, when that money could be used to help someone acquire food or medicine (see Acts 4:32-35)! On a court TV show that I watched, a woman was suing her estranged husband for back child support. The man countersued his ex-wife hoping to get his property back, particularly his XBOX360, er herm!!
Back to the story: Once the water was energized with healing virtue, individuals would race, likely trampling one another or knocking the other out of the way (watch out kids), those who could walk or run. Why? In order to beat the rest of the infirmed, maimed, disabled and afflicted, or the ones with congenital illnesses or problems into the water.
In this story the lame man could never beat his bipedal brothers and sisters into the water. For as he explained to Jesus, how can I get into the water when no one will help me? Some preachers teach that this man was weak and needed to learn to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, instead of waiting for someone else to pull him up. Those sentiments usually come from American Capitalist Church/Syndrome preachers, who are ministers in the American Capitalist Church!
Many Americans, including many Christian Americans are just like the selfish people who swarmed down on the area around the healing pool at the time of healing. They think only of themselves first, and their mode of thinking centers around the 'me first philosophy'. Someone who really needs help is often pushed back or overlooked, given the stampede by some who are less needy who push them aside so that they can get more of what they want!
I have witnessed, on numerous occasions, individuals rushing to church altars during prayer and healing services. And they do so in deference to someone who may have a greater need than their own. Believers will race in front of those who are infirmed, on crutches or in wheelchairs - in order to get their healing or needs or desires met first.
I was visiting a church service one day where author, preacher and motivational speaker Tim Storey was the visiting evangelist. A woman and her obvious encephalitic toddler, who was in a specialized wheelchair, were nearly trampled when Tim opened the altar for prayer.
Tim would often encourage individuals to run to the altar when he called out a particular need. I wondered, how come the individuals who ran pass this woman and her child did not stop and instead offer to push the child to the altar for prayer in their stead?
And what do some individuals come to the altar to have the minister pray over anyway? Someone is asking God to tell them whether or not they should upgrade their luxury automobile, only one vehicle in their household fleet, to the 'S' Class. These individuals ignore the fact that at the same time their brothers and sisters walk or depend on public transportation to get everywhere that they need to go.
What must God be thinking when he hears a nutty request coming from a nutty Christian like this? Could he be thinking, as much as I have given you already, why won't you help someone else? Instead of an 'S' class or 750, why won't you purchase 4 vehicles for the same price and distribute them to those single moms who are in need, standing or kneeling besides you at the same altar? Have you ever considered creating a job for someone else. How about taking the $50K that you plan to throw away this year, and use all of it to create jobs summer jobs for kids?
I made this recommendation to someone last year, explaining that their church could easily create a $500K jobs program. How? If every wage earner in the church would take the portion of money that they planned to waste or spend legitimately on home repairs and pool it. Imagine what a church of one thousand could do? You could keep someone from stealing! Some of us don't need another suit, tie, pair of shoes, coffee table, sofa, new furniture, new carpet, new car or anything just yet. HELP SOMEBODY ELSE!
Someone else, at the altar prayer, is trying to decide what to do about that major household purchase that they have been contemplating. 'Lawd', they pray, this 2,500 square foot home isn't working for my family anymore (of 3 people). And Lawd, I suspect that my family really needs to purchase that 6,000 square foot home that sits on 13 acres. Are you leading me to buy that home 'Lawd'?
Er herm Lawd, these same individuals have purchased 7 homes in their lifetimes. And while they keep 'acquiring bigger barns - I mean houses', their own relatives have spent their whole lives living in substandard, and on occasion in dangerous public housing settings.
And before you ask me, well how do you get to church reverend? For the past two months I have joyously walked, on average 3 to 5 miles to and from church, or used public transportation.
God has blessed me to understand why he and the Apostles walked; they didn't have to. You know that since Jesus created the world, he could have created a vehicle for both he and the disciples to get around in - something like the Popemobile, or perhaps a luxury vehicle like most of our ministers today insist on having in order to do the work of the LAWD!
Most ministers today find it hard to minister unless they own a Rolls, Mercedes, Cadillac, Lincoln or a Benz. I have 3 automobiles at my disposal, I own none of them. Oftentimes, individuals will offer me a ride up and down the mountain where I am currently residing. I feel like Elijah and Elisha must have felt at times cruising up and down a mountain, by foot. I wonder if I could outrun Elijah if I had to? Now wait Rev you say, don't lay a guilt trip on me - I give! How much do you give? Jesus gave all - he poured himself out to help us!
Okay, I accept a ride on occasion back up the mountain, but most of the time I walk up and down it on Sunday! I find myself thanking God for the ability to walk. Have you been to the nursing home lately and observed those who could walk 5 years ago, but cannot walk now? How come self-centered Christians never pray and reach out to substantially help the needy - sometimes their own relatives, to purchase a home or car?
At least if you purchase the 13 acres, how about building say 20 or 30 affordable homes or apartments on the property, and help someone else for a change? A Christian couple purchased, I would estimate, a 4,000 square foot home in San Jose California. There they care for 6 or 7 handicapped individuals. Kudos to them!
Most Christians believe that when they give to 'the [po offering] at church', and I do mean [po] offering, that they have done their part. The truth is that after they drop one dollar in the [po] offering, immediately after church the same individuals head out for a fine-dining experience (in their 750 Class Sedan). And what are they wearing, furs and minks. Why, so they can enjoy a lunch for two that usually runs about $70 after tax and tip are included.
Wow, that would have fed a family of four for a week - well some families! Well what about my family some would ask, are you telling me that we don't have a right to dine out? Well, just take the family out to Sunday dinner once a month, and go home and cook some lima beans or something - you are too fat anyway, and the fiber will be good for your digestive tract!
Yes, hand that $70 over to a family in need and tell them to use it. Perhaps that family would like to dine out, and all 8 of them will eat for what 2 of you dine on! More than likely they will take the money and go and pay a delinquent utility bill. Do you wonder sometimes when you eat out why the food and the service were so bad, given what you just spent? Could it be that God had a hand in it, because you are so selfish?
I walked in a restaurant one day to dine, and God said look at that mother and her 3 children in front of you. He told me that they could not afford to dine, even though they were in line. He instructed me to bless them so that they could dine. I obeyed, and handed $70 over to them. And guess what I had enough left over to dine myself.
A deacon of a church playfully told one of the overweight churchmembers where he attended, that when the Rapture occurs, God would have to send a tow truck to get this saint and tow them to heaven. A church in Mountain View California once practiced tough love in its dining hall. If you entered the food line and requested to purchase let's say a slice of pie, and the staffperson determined that you were overweight, the staffmember would recommend that you have a salad instead.
One heavy Christian took umberage at being told that she needed a piece of pie instead of salad, oops! Fat Christians, go home on Sunday and have a salad! And some ought to join me and walk to church for awhile - let the others who have been walking ride!
And those one of you Christian sisters who are paying $600 to $1000 dollars to get your hair done - shame on you. You could save a family from being evicted from their homes. You haven't forgot how to use a hotcomb!
Folks, instead of singing, "I Need Thee Oh", or some other customary altar song during the altar service, truthfully, most believers ought to be singing, "Me, Me, Me, Oh, Me, Me, Me, reprise, Oh Me Me Me...",, because 'me' is the one that they are always thinking about!
I have often wondered what would happen if speed-racer Christians, that race to the altar at church each Sunday would step back and allow someone with a real need to get to the altar first. I can only imagine what might happen if all of the ones who customarily run ahead of someone with a real need would join in, lay hands on and all pray together for the one with the most important need, just what might happen?
I suspect that those in the speed-racer group could tolerate a headache, a toothache or a backache or drive their two year old BMW for another week or so, while pursuing the real healing and care of those who are truly infirmed, brokenhearted, despondent, catatonic or suicidal. God's grace is sufficient for the speed-racer believer - learn as Paul did to glory in necessities, in infirmities...!
Besides, this ought to appeal to some of the speed-racer self-interested Christians -if you were to pray for the needs of someone else, God would bless you - and you are who you are always thinking of! A member in my church once said that the reason that she 'paid her tithes', was so that she could get something in return. Sadly, many individuals who give to God, give expecting something in return.
I reminded her of all that she had already received, even before she got into the church and began returning tithes to the Lord. Instead of looking for more, many like her could think of giving in these terms, you are simply returning a portion of what the Lord has been blessing you with since you have been on Earth!
Sadly, just like it is on the outside of the church, it is the same inside of some churches. Some pastors and members in the American Capitalist Church use the church as if it were a 'cash cow'. Both the pastor and the member oftentimes, expects to benefit financially from the church. In our larger churches, individuals come to church in order network. Bishop TD Jakes didn't help when he told an audience some years, that the church is a business.
Shame on you Bishop Jakes, yes I said shame on Bishop Jakes. Everywhere he goes, he raises tons of money. Just how much of that money do you suspect is spent towards spiritual and social uplift. The reason that the Prayer of Jabez appealed to most Christianswhen it did, a few years ago, was because many believers saw it as an opportunity to use someone else's prayer, as a means to satiate their greedlusts; they wanted more!
Another nutty minister in the Jakes tradition, he wants a big house, car, money, airplane and church, boasted during his sermon given in the midwest rust belt, that his house was so big that the could not find all of the bathrooms in it. This television minister was speaking in an area of the country that had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. I can say it, you can't - but what an ignoramus! I wrote to him and asked him not to do it again!
And sadly, many ministers like these two once taught the prayer of Jabez as something else that could be used by Christian America preachers and their flocks to satisfy their capitalist greed lusts. This behavior, at church, is not much different than that of those who use Astrology at home in hopes of getting rich. Frankly, there have always been individuals who get determine which numbers to play in the lottery based on the scriptures that are read in church on Sunday morning.
These individuals will get a number wherever they can in hopes of garnering wealth. Some Christians, instead of using Astrology, use God in order to garner wealth and to seek to have their lusts (lists) fulfilled! When will believers ever be satisfied with what God has blessed us with (Godly contentment), in the moment? When will God's people tire of pimping Jesus?
Haven't we failed to recognize the needs of others in this country and in the surrounding world, that are superior to our own needs or desire? How can we be lights to the world when we are so singularly focused and darkened by self-serving interests only? For too many of us prayer time is similar to Christmas time, when we ponder what we want Santa (God in this case) to put under under our trees!
Will we ever learn to consider that we have enough, and as we give thanks for what we have received, we can turn around and use our disposable income or bounty to be a blessing to others? And some of those others, are standing besides us at the altar praying for help from God. Could it be that God wants some of us to help them, instead of begging for more for ourselves? I am proud to say that in addition to preaching that I have spent over 20 years of my life also volunteering in numerous agencies, seeking to help others.
Believers vote with their feet at the church, just as the nation at large votes at voting booths, or when they mail their ballots - in order to exercise their franchises. I was thinking last week, just what are some of the themes that God hears when believers petition him? The word says that if we ask anything according to his will, we know that he hears us, and if he hears us, we know that we have our petitions. I suspect that this is the reason that only a few of the prayers that are sent up ever get answered.
Voting and praying have a lot in common. The object of both are simply to petition or register ones feelings, opinions, grief or need for help. Why? Answer: In order to garner what one wants, needs or desires, or in order to have things done the way that we feel that they ought to be done. The Lord spoke directly to me a year ago saying these words: Our theme - ought to be - to pursue different passions - for different people.
I often remind believers that there is both a social as well as a spiritual dimension to Christ's ministry, and we should practice and pursue that. When will the world learn? When will believers learn?
The American materialistic church is a poor example for the world. A young woman repeated something to me that has often been repeated in many of today's churches; even ministers say it. She explained that she would not follow a minister that did not know how to dress. She went on to defend the ministers need to preach in an Armani suit and the accompanying accoutrement. I said then you would not have followed Jesus, John the Baptist or Elijah.
I stunned her when I explained that she had been conditioned by American Capitalist ministers, who were teaching individuals to look on the outward appearance as opposed to the heart. Ministers are teaching Christian Americans to be shallow consumers who judge by appearance as opposed to the heart!
Part 2 Let's move on: What should Americans be concerned about and voting for.
Some Americans have zero interest in health-care issues. They could care less about health care, because their health care needs have and are being met. Is it true that every American needs health care insurance, particularly 50 million Americans who reportedly do not have it? Maybe not, because that would only make the insurance companies and insurance lobbyists richer. Having said that, those who make the final decisions in Washington DC all have healthcare!
With respect to the real problem in health care, it is the same problem that we are experiencing given the spiraling costs of housing, energy, food, education for our kids and selves, utilities..., and the real source of the problem in every area of life in America is pure and simple GREED! Applying band-aid solutions to the problem, will not ultimately resolve the problem - that will only prolong the problem.
Supply and demand vs Greed: America has an abundance of trained healthcare providers and support service personnel. We also have excellent schools that can provide training for those who want to enter into the healthcare field. And there are no shortage of pharmaceutical companies or medications. So what's the problem? Since we have individuals who need healthcare services and medications; and we have individuals who can provide the services and medications(supply and demand), where is the disconnect?
How come some individuals, particularly working poor individuals, can not acquire medications or healthcare? The disconnect centers around one thing and one thing only, greed! In other words, those who can provide life-saving services or medications refuse to unless they can receive an exorbitant payment for providing medications or services. The cost to receive healthcare services and medications for some is completely out of reach.
Do the greedy healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies need the money? Some individuals do, the ones have graduated from costly medical or pharmacological school who have received a $250k education. On the other hand some who don't need the money only want the money so that they can, like too many Americans want to do, enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. Besides that the cost of educating healthcare workers has risen absorbitantly, because of greed! Should other Americans have to subsidize those Americans through taxes or otherwise, who cannot pay for services or medications?
They won't have to, except in extreme cases, once greed has been eliminated from American society.
I can still remember a time when being a physician or service provider meant that you were an extension of Christ's ministry on earth. Clara Barton, where are you? I can belatedly recall when working in public service meant that you were a servant of the people. Today, to borrow a colloquialism, everyone is 'trying to get paid'. Eliminating greed in America is the solution to exorbitant and spiraling costs in housing, education, heathcare, energy, food pricing...!
Too many individuals, and too many American professionials need to learn to care about their fellow men and women agan. Both consumer and professional greed are helping to destroy this nation, and to the displacement of too many Americans who are sliding into a greed-induced economic abyss!
II. In the 1970's, the beginning of the wage price spiral escalation in America, we were unwittingly witnessing only the beginning of a destructive trend that has lasted for 4 decades now. And during that period American family disposable and discretionary income have only diminished. In most instances wages have not risen commensurately to keep up with exorbitant costs. Americans earn more than they did just ten years ago, however, there buying power has decreased along with their increased earnings.
It takes two or more paychecks for householders to get by on. It took only one paycheck to get by on a couple of decades ago. Whn you adjust for greed-inflation and the slide of the American dollar, in those instances where an individual earners wages have gone up the rising prices have outstripped his or her's actual buying power.
There used to be a time in this nation when a single wage earner could support a family of 4 to 8 individuals out of one paycheck. I remember the days when I would visit the doctor or dentist, pay the physician, purchase medications and write a check to pay for their services and for my medications. Thirty years ago, I only required affordable insurance to underwrite those extreme instances that might occur, when something major needed to be done.
And in those days I was earning $10K or less a year. Today, and in many households it would seem that everyone in the house is working just so a family can get by, even in those instances when a family is not living above their means. Also, many families operate a family business on the side in order to subsidize the family's bloated earned income!
Does that solve the problem? Of course not, for the more you earn, the more the greedy raise their prices.
Only a small percentage of Americans can afford to pay for their own healthcare or for medications, that is without the families budget taking a substantial hit. And for many Americans who are able to pay for hefty insurance premiums (roughly
$2K per month) for a family of three (often in conjunction with their employer participating), their premiums and their deductibles are so high, that often times the benefit of having insurance is negligible!
Americans needs to address the PROBLEM OF GREED in our nation more than anything else. It will not only help America and Americans domestically, it will also have an effect on the way in which our government behaves in the world. Much of our behavior and America's policies towards other nations of the world, has been motivated by not only power but greed.
In many instances we need their resources, raw materials and markets in order to sell our consumer goods and to maintain the American way of 'high life', in deference to the nations that we violate. Greed helps to determine our trade policies with other nations. The insatiable need for oil in America, in deference for the need for the same oil for example, in emerging and modernizing nations like China has struck the fear into the heart of America. America consumes more of its share of every resoruce in the world, compared to other nations of the world.
And if we cannot get what we want legitimately, and we have often been cited by the World Trade Organization for predatory trade practices, America will simply take what it wants, or embargo nations like Cuba.
Greed has drive the cost of living up in America, to the extent that the average American can no longer afford to own a home
Again, the solution to our healthcare problem is really not insurance for everyone. The problem that needs to be addressed is the problem of greed, and I cannot emphasize it enough. Consider the homeless in America. Someone said once that all of us, 'are just a paycheck or two from the curb'.
Doctors, lawyers, CEOs, apartment owners, home builders..., everyone, it would seem is seeking to become a millionaire.
III. The naiive belief that by simply casting one's vote for either of the candidates (that Americans expect to solve the problem), while at the same time addressing the actual problem which is greed, will only result in the real problem being prolonged.
Americans have benefitted from the legitimization of greed. Washington Post Editor and Journalist Tony Blankely boasted on the McLaughlin show, that 'there is nothing wrong with greed', too many Americans agree with him, and the rationale for American greed.
IV. Washington DC, the seat of our federal government, and the way that things are done in Washington need to be changed, even if that means amending the Constitution of the United States of America. Registered lobbyists, over 300,000 of them, who mostly have offices on 'K' Street - just a stone's throw from the White House and several blocks from Capitol Hill, have more pull with the federal government than the average American citizen has. That has to be changed!
Most of us have witnessed when our Representatives from our individual states, and our President have been indifferent to the needs of the people. On the other hand, corporations, pharmaceutical companies, hospital conglomerates, the military, military suppliers, the wealthy and others have benefitted the most from government!
V. We must change, and insist that Washington and our officials in Washington DC, change.
Some are getting what they want from our officials in Washington, and therefore they are satisfied with business as usual. The more mature American ought to look at the long-term devaluation of America, and the effects that it will have on them and their children.
Finally: I have witnessed mothers, even pre-natal mothers being turned away after standing for hours in free-clinic lines, one in particular that I volunteered at several years ago. One mother with child stood in line and you could see the visible milk stains that leaked from her breats onto her gown, as she waited for services at a free clinic. All of us are aware that there are more and more homeless individuals in this nation. And each one of us has experienced or noticed the escalating cost of living in America, is doing to other Americans.
Why? Because wealthy and ambitious greed-barons drive up the costs of housing, energy, medical-care et al. Are my fellow men and women of the cloth preaching enough about this, or are they too busy trying to get their lion's share of the wealth, even from those who are already suffering economic pressure? How dare some of them do what Jesus never did, use their ministries to acquire wealth.
Until all Americans, if not all human beings in the world have what they need, those who have more than what they need ought to curtail their behavior and spending, then handover their excesses to the poor. The problem in America, which is getting worse by the day, won't go away until we make it go away. And it won't change until we change it and ourselves. Americans have been conditioned to be greedy and to live with a sense of entitlment.
Only after American's hearts have been changed and guided by the Holy Spirit can he or she vote in the manner that they ought. Saying it is not good enough. Remember the scripture that teaches that the just (as opposed to simply having faith), ought to live by their faith? Many Americans, particularly Christian Americans need to learn to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Once the heart has been changed, voting for the person 'who will get the job done', will have meaning. And when we don't see anyone that we believe is worth voting for, then it is incumbent on the people to take back the power from America's 2-Party system, and run our own candidates.
America has a deep-seated spiritual problem. We have all to often rejected our King, just as the children of Israel preferred to have a King over them as opposed to accepting God's sovereignty! This is what preachers out to be preaching instead of leading the 'get rich networking and other capitalists plans' in their congregations.
In the interim, when you vote, write in a candidate who is worthy and would do the job that needs to be done according to God's word, not just one who says that he or she represents God. And when you vote early and often - please don't trample over other Americans in order to get 'just what you want'! Vote with the mind of Christ and for social justice issues. Cast your vote in behalves of the poor, infirmed, elderly, underserved, underpriveleged, unemployed, underepresented, uneducated, underemployed and uncounted - these are the ones that Jesus fought for!
Peace & Grace
Reverend C. Solomon
Addenda: Senator McCain is correct: It is hard to do work in the city of Satan (Washington DC); I will add to that, 'it is hard to work in a nation where Satan has deceived the minds of its people are greedy and in pursuit of health!
One day I was walking down the streets towards a church, when I observed from a large stacked pile of clothing (that had seemingly been dumped on the sidewalk), something strange. The closer I got, I determined that there was a human being under that pile of clothing. I stopped and insisted on helping. However, the voice from under the clothes pile thanked me and insisted that I move on. There was nothing that I could do to change his mind, no matter how I protested!
Later that day, someone explained, you don't know who that man was do you? And
how could, he explained, since you are not from around here. The minister
explained that the man was a member of a wealthy local family that
owned a retail store in San Mateo California. This man took
a vow of poverty, much like Mother Theresa and other
nuns have done and are doing. This man rejected
his family's wealth, and decided to join
the poor on the streets. I asked the
minster, how long has he been
living on the streets? I
was told that he had
been living thee
This man rejected wealth. Could it have been Jesus under that pile of clothing?
The scriptures read that the foxes have holes and the birds next, but the Son
of man had not where to lay his head. Jesus was homeless in his later
years on earth, and he chose to be. For he not only left his home
in glory to come and see about both you and me - he abandoned
his earthly home, wealth and comforts in order to see
about you and me. Now its out turn to see about