Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Theology of "We Built It!"

Last week I wrote a post that was meant to be a warning against Christians (and all people) protesting too strongly to the "You didn't build that" statement of President Obama. At the time I knew that the statement had become a byword with conservatives. I did not know, however, that it would become the rally cry of the GOP Convention.
Now, by criticizing the Republican party it could seem that I am somehow endorsing the Democratic party. That is not my intention at all. That said, this battle cry of the GOP deserves some special attention.
In response to the president's statement, the key phrase at the GOP Convention has been, "We built it!" The phrase is on T-shirts and posters, and the three syllable phrase is being chanted during speeches.
As much as I believe it is a mistake to take exception to someone saying to us, "You didn't build that," I believe it is a far greater mistake to proudly proclaim, "We built it!"
Seriously? We built it?
And this is a party the is claiming to have a greater correlation with the Christian message?
I can think of nothing more godless than proclaiming, "We built it!"
Think of Nebuchadnezzar: Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as a royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:29-30)
What is God's response to this pride-filled question?
Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from the people and live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like an ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes." (Daniel 4:31-32)
Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed of Babylon, "I built it!" And God responded by humbling him in profound ways until he saw his smallness and God's majesty.
Think of the Tower of Babel: Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth." (Genesis 11:4)
The people said, "We need to build something great; otherwise we will be unimportant." God responded to this by thwarting their plan and confusing their languages. No one makes himself great. That is God's job.
Perhaps the passages that speaks most directly to the phrase, "We built it" is Psalm 127:1: Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Humility is central to the Christian life. We are humble because we recognize that everything we have is from God. Everything! The ability to breath, the skills to work, the intelligence to think. Everything is from God. And, most importantly, our righteousness, hope, and forgiveness is from what God has done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ.
We haven't built anything. Self-sufficiency is not a Christian value. It is an idol that distracts us from true Christian attitudes.
What if someone at the GOP Convention came out and said this: "We believe that God has gifted human beings with creativity and that greater governmental regulations stifle that creativity. Therefore, we believe that America will prosper in greater ways if we allow greater freedom for that God-given and God-directed creativity to flourish." This would reflect a disagreement with the president's policies without embracing self-sufficiency.
It is no surprise that the GOP disagrees with the president's policies and plans. What is a bit surprising is that their new slogan is so flagrantly godless. It is sad. Especially for a party the claims to be in line with "Christian values."
No Christian should ever proclaim, "I/we built it."

Unless, of course, you have a desire to eat grass for seven years.

1 comment:

  1. Deuteronomy 8 was to provide the Israelites an interesting guard against this type of "We built it!" idolatry.