Reflecting on the Government Shutdown

Despite reading various links from my Google Search, “What the government shutdown means for me” I’m still not sure how it dramatically affects many of us in the short-term who are not relying on governmental provisions in the forms of food or seniors’ or veterans’ services. From what I can see, teaching hospitals, medical research facilities, and other related companies/facilities are affected while social security, counter-terrorism, air-traffic controllers and of course, the Post Office are all still running. (I do realize some of these are furloughed and unpaid but many will be reimbursed as today’s news indicates.)

In one sense I am relieved that a short-term government shutdown does not dramatically disrupt many of our lives. I’m grateful this is not a green light for rioters and home invasions because law enforcement is suspended. I’m also grateful for things like our power grid, sanitation and the internet not being shutdown. This of course, would be political suicide for anyone who pushed those buttons but again, what does a government shutdown actually mean?

Still I can’t help but think what this mess is really costing. We’re told it’s costing the economy billions. Further, I am still trying to figure out the truth for those who are relying on government services providing food and healthcare. Repeatedly I keep hearing these services have not really been suspended as government aid supports agencies that provide the service but they are still running. I hope that’s true but still wonder what happens in the long run.

But let’s hypothetically say everyone is fed, no one’s health coverage has been suspended and the economy is only “inconvenienced.” The reality the shutdown is yet another grand demonstration of the lack of unity in our country. While it’s tempting to say our government leaders are all drunk on power and blinded by ego, we should remember the stand-off reflects the way we voted.

It’s here where I as a pastor am supposed to say something like, “The government can be shutdown but God cannot!” or if I wanted to be more personal, “Jesus will never shutdown his people.” This is true, we know this, and I have no doubt that we would gain great insights by reflecting on this. But this is not where my Christian faith informs me.

I know people who love the idea of making the world better through law and politics but I don’t know anyone who truly promotes and defends our politicians in the general sense. Aside from when President Obama was elected and some said, “The world is going to change and gas is going to be cheaper,” I simply don’t know anyone who promote and defends the government.

In light of this, I’ve had three thoughts:

First, the end result of disunity is stoppage eventually. It’s the inevitable outcome of disunity – eventually it breaks, divorces and ceases. It’s naive to think in the old mantra, “You go your way, I’ll go mine” will work every time. We need each other.
Second, compromise without reconciliation only leads to temporary solutions but the threat of some type of stoppage will always remain possible.

Third, any type of stoppage (government, relational, even spiritual) should move us to pursue unity and reconciliation.  These days remind us now is the time.

What we really need is reconciliation and a spirit of unity throughout our society, which through our election process would eventually be reflected in our government. This goes beyond bi-partisan compromises, I’m talking about unity. The type that can truly love and care for the other though we may differ on solution, ideology, and conviction.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I know how this sounds naive but the Christian calling of loving your neighbor and your enemy is anything but naive. Jesus makes this proclamation in the midst of a powerful Roman military presence. He says, “Love them – your persecutor, your enemy.”

Today, our persecutor looks different.  We are not occupied, many of us enjoy equal citizenship, but today sometimes our persecutor is our neighbor and sometimes we are theirs. I can’t help but think in light of this shutdown, the Christian message of unity and reconciliation would do us well.



  1. Great post, Tim. While I still think this is a result of ineffective dickering and too-late protesting by the Republicans, your greater point is right on. Ultimately, the kind of ego-driven posturing that happens in our government results in a “stoppage of play”; both teams are pouting about what the other side has done or won’t do and neither team will step on to the field to interact within the established rules.

  2. Thanks Jason. Yeah despite the chatter, it does feel like a game of chicken at the moment.
    Hope all of you are doing well. (I’m coming to Nashville in April – would love to catch up, meet your children, grab some coffee/beer)

  3. Man that sounds great! Buzz me as we get closer and we’ll make a plan.

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