Aligning with the God of Life or Death

Much has been made of the revelation that Osama bin Laden remained committed to murdering massive numbers of Americans.

The Guardian reported that the now deceased al-Qaida leader made extraordinary attempts to figure out how many American deaths it would take—believing that future attacks should be on smaller U.S. cities and make use of trains and other modes of transportation—to make political leaders in this country reverse our Middle East policies and remove ourselves from that region.

The documentation for these claims evidently can be found on the materials taken from the compound where bin Laden lived for years undetected.

Although some doubt that he had the means to command these attacks because of the decentralized nature of the organization he inspired and led, just the seeding of that idea in the minds of continuing dedicated followers has been seen as justification for ending his life by the Navy SEALS.

And while by no means representing the orthodox teachings of Islam, bin Laden’s heretical appeal to a divine mandate for his murderous agenda has had the consequence of intensifying the loyalty of his followers.

It has, as well, provided excuses for some non-Muslims to heighten their Islamophobia and claim that this faith is aligned with a God not of life but of death.

But next to nothing has been made of the fact that a large group of American politicians remain committed to ending the lives of thousands—and, over time, millions—of their fellow Americans.

It isn’t that these politicos have been keeping their cruel plans secret. They have, in fact, been quite open, even prideful, about it.

It is, truth be told, a—if not the—central plank of their political platforms and agendas.

Most of the time it is the first pledge they make to the voters, which goes something like: “If elected I promise that I will immediately and tirelessly work to repeal Obamacare,” by which they mean the Affordable Care Act that became law in March 2010.

Back in January, two hundred forty-five members of the House of Representatives (242 Republicans and 3 Democrats) made good on their vow to vote for repeal, even though they knew that the Democratically controlled Senate would take no such action and that the president would surely exercise his veto power – if, by chance, some Senate Democrats joined the opposition and agreed to repeal.

Since that time the legislators have tried to have their way by blocking funding for the implementation of the health care reform legislation.

Moreover, officials in a number of states have filed suits in federal courts to have the legislation declared unconstitutional, based on the so-called “individual mandate,” which is the law’s means for achieving nearly universal health insurance coverage.

Writing in the National Review Online recently (5/17/11), John R. Graham opined: “Repealing Obamacare is not something Republicans can waffle on in the slightest…Every single Republican presidential candidate will promise to repeal Obamacare: that’s the price to the dance..”

That, despite the fact that the reform legislation passed better than a year ago will, when fully implemented, expand insurance to better than 30 million Americans, through a widening of Medicaid and subsidies to lower and middle income people so they can purchase private coverage.

Repealing the legislation, on the other hand, would have a bin Laden kind of consequence—actually, a lot worse than that al-Qaida leader’s plan.

If the health care reform law isn’t implemented it is estimated that approximately 550 Americans per week will die unnecessarily.

Do the math: annualized that’s over 28,000 deaths per year.

Compare that to 9/11 and even to 9/11 multiplied over a number of years according to Osama bin Laden’s design.

Maybe not strangely enough, like bin Laden, many of his American counterparts claim a religious—a divine—mandate for their cause of demanding repeal.

It isn’t only that more conservative religious groups falsely accuse the reform legislation both of funding abortions and instituting the rationing of health care, but equally because they see it as a socialist plot and, therefore, an instrument to undermine the divinely blessed free market economic system upon which the current health care and insurance industries are based.

According to this rationale, evidently, it’s perfectly all right to have hundreds, thousands, millions of people die unnecessarily in order to protect those competitive and so-called “free” markets that have been crafted by human minds.

And just in case the repeal of the very legislation that gives millions more a chance at continued life isn’t enough, roughly the same group of politicians is proposing that the country’s Medicare program—providing affordable and quality health care for seniors—be dismantled and replaced with a voucher system that will cause millions of those seniors to be denied the health care they need in order to live.

Evidently Christians of this kind have no problem aligning themselves with a God not of life but of death.

When the Apostle Paul was visiting Athens (see Acts 17), it is reported that “his spirit was irritated within him, because he saw that the city was filled with idols.” It was his irritated spirit that took him to the Athenian synagogues and the public square of the city to make his case against the human-made idols and on behalf of faith in the God of a resurrected Jesus – a God, therefore, not of death but of life.

Then, the story goes, he spotted an altar with the inscribed words, “To an Unknown God” and used that occasion to identify the once divinely unknown with the now divinely revealed and known—the God “who made the world and everything in it,” the God “who does not dwell in temples made by hand,” the God who “from one human being made every nation of humans to dwell over the entire face of the earth.”

The Apostle appealed to the Athenians not to align themselves with the human-crafted idols and ideologies that represent the God of death, but the God revealed in Jesus who needs nothing from human hands since this now known God “gives life and breath and everything to everyone.”

“For in that God we live and move and have our being.”

That’s an apostle’s address about alignment that Americans need to re-hear—even with an irritated spirit—in their places of worship, their public squares, and their political assemblies.

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