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Deliverance

June 17, 2009

“Deliver us from evil and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of …”  Despite the sour grapes rhetoric coming from conservative commentators suggesting that President Obama has a god-complex, nothing suggests he considers himself the Second Coming.

Nevertheless, a new poll result questions President Obama’s handling of the economic crisis.  Sadly, these results reflect a widely held misapprehension that effective leaders deliver us from uncertainty by solving all our problems for us.

Jews in Jesus’ time expected the Messiah to restore God’s kingdom on Earth.  This would mean delivering them from the oppressive conditions under which they were governed by the Romans, just as Moses had delivered them from slavery in Egypt centuries before.

Jesus expended considerable effort trying to make it clear to anyone inclined to listen that these conditions were largely of their own making, and fulfilling their  expectations was not on His agenda.  Deliverance He told them would come through sacrifice and redemption.

He was willing to endure the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf once and for all, but He asked them to do two things: Repent from evil and commit yourself to a life of faith manifest through love and charity toward others, regardless of their creed or deeds.  His message did not require those who followed His example to love the sin, just the sinner.

President Obama has not offered to sacrifice himself for our sake, and he shouldn’t be expected to regardless what conservative pundits have to say on the subject.  That would be too simple, and would not solve very much anyway.  But he has asked us to change our ways and start acting with kindness toward one another.

It strikes me as unfortunate, if not unwise, to ignore the evidence that such small steps undertaken with a clear head and a pure heart make an immense difference.  We may want President Obama to deliver us from the evil that led us into the current situation, but getting him to make our agenda his own would not produce the lasting change required to redeem us from our own wicked ways.

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