The shootings in Tucson last weekend left long-range, huge philosophical debates in its wake – unintended consequences far beyond the evil imagination of the twisted shooter.  He is now in a cell.  We are all now left to wander through the morass of opinion, doubt and confusion that inevitably arises when a senseless tragedy occurs in a society where absolute answers have long been rejected.  The main call right now is for civility in our public discourse.  Funny how we’re more concerned about what people say in public than what they are thinking in their hearts.

Bringing people together has been a desire for years in America and we look to our leaders to somehow pull it off.  To save us all some unnecessary frustration, let me just suggest that the sooner we let this “dream” go, the better off we’ll be.  We will never come together and be completely civil and unified because to get what we want in this world, we need power.  Power doesn’t come from civility or unity.  It comes from ripping it away from whoever has it – not a very civil process.

It’s an old problem.  Look at political cartoons from the 18th and 19th centuries.  Read about campaigns for office in which candidates were called every name in the book and family members weren’t off limits.  Incivility is our American birthright – a nation born in rebellion.  Adams, Jefferson and Jackson had to take it and they dished it out along with just about any other public figure who felt they had to “take a stand” or “take back their country”.

The problem really goes back much further.  One tree was forbidden in the Garden of Eden – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  It was the tree that represented independence, of walking away from God’s plan. 

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Genesis 3:6

When Eve, then Adam made that break from submitting to God and His design, they declared themselves as gods.  In grace, God provided redemption, but the damage was done and humans have spent the rest of history up until today trying to be god.

But when many little god-declarers start to disagree on what should happen in society, there is nothing left but a power struggle and the way to gain power is to do whatever it takes.  Through the years, mankind has found that civility is a desperately ineffective means to achieve power.  Don’t expect it to happen now.  Don’t look for unity.  When we as a people gladly tossed God aside, we chose our fate – we want our independence from Him and what has been the price?

We pay for it every day in our relationships.  We pay for it in our economy.  We pay for it in our media.  We pay for it in education.  45 million murdered babies (and more) have paid for it while Americans with the most power approved.  We’re paying for it in Tucson.

We have to start with ourselves to place ourselves under God in obedience to Him.  Then pray for others’ hearts to change, not words.

Over the next couple of weeks, my television watching will consist of two things: basketball and news.  The NCAA tournament is a highlight every year and things are getting very interesting in American politics.  As disconnected as these two subjects seem, there is a link that reminds me of the importance of the Paphos Paradigm.

Do you feel the upheaval and intensity in today’s political environment?  Major legislation is being considered and we seem to hear as much about how law is made as we do what the laws are.  “Peace” is not a word that comes to my mind when I think of our political situation today.

Yet the Scriptures command the believer to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).  Here, believe it or not, is the connection to March Madness.  The word “rule” in this verse literally means the ref’s call at a sporting event.  When we let the peace of Christ rule in us, His peace is the deciding factor in the decisions we make.  The true believer cannot consistently opt to live life his own way, since that would result in sin, guilt and a damaged conscience.  Letting Christ’s peace rule – or making minute-by-minute choices that please Him, fostering and preserving our peace (agreement and security) with Him is how we abide under the authority of the ref on the court.

So why is there so much conflict in politics?  The hearts of most of our leaders are not ruled by this peace.  Promoting civility will not change that.  Encouraging bipartisanship will not change that.  Peace with God only comes through Jesus: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus ChristRomans 5:1.  Peace with Him makes peace with others possible.  More than that, it makes peace our motivation to glorify Christ, giving us an authority other than ourselves to rule in our relationships.

Pray for your leaders that they may know the One who brings true peace.   Let’s not get mad at unbelievers for acting naturally.  Only supernatural change through the power of the gospel will bring inner, lasting heart-change. 

For more on this, click here to read the Maryland legislators’ Bible study notes for this week, “In the Courtroom of Motivation”.