6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. 7 Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.” 8 For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. – Psalm 122:6-9
Perhaps this month of October would be a good time to suspend the sale of Starbucks, PBR, Vin Diesel movies, television sets, cable subscriptions, and internet connections. In fact, it could be a good month, in the spirit of ecumenism, to honor our Amish neighbors and skip the technology that keeps us glued to our smartphones. You see, we don’t need the caffeine, the inexpensive inebriation, testosterone boosting movies, angry opinionators, or the slinging arrows of social media; not with an upcoming election. We don’t need anything that that would juice our ire; fuel our animosity; stoke our fears. When in the future, anthropologists come upon the campaign ads of our era, folks, we’re not likely to fare very well in their report. It seems a bit disturbing that an integral method we use in selecting those who will lead us is to drown the public with ads heavy with distortion, misrepresentation, and prevarication; ads light on truth, integrity, substance, or honor. The sad truth is that the reason these ads continue to proliferate is because, somehow, they are effective at influencing opinion, which means that we are just as guilty as the campaigns that produce them. Winning by any means necessary results in a body politic for which the common good is as relevant as a grain of salt in a vat of pepper. And, you know, I don’t think any of us welcome the thought that this is what our great-grandchildren would learn about us.
The church is not to be of the world, but it certainly is in the world, and so we regularly pray that those whose decisions affect the lives of others would forget about self-interest and obsess over the common good. The Psalmist’s prayer for Jerusalem reminds us that our prospects diminish when we neglect the welfare of others. “For the sake of the house of the Lord, I will seek your good.” If winning is the only thing, we sacrifice the good thing, and ignore the just thing. So, if it is not feasible to honor the Amish this month, may the words of Jesus and the encouragement of the Psalmist become the prayer you breathe in and breath out throughout these deceptive days: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” “For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”