Chapter 11:

Loyalty to the Kingdom— Part 3:

Nationalism and Racism

When God looks down at the earth, he does not see national boundaries. These are artificial constructs of the petty minds of men, established in distrust and fear, and hardened by pride. Some believe that God ordains the national divisions of men, pointing to scripture, such as at Acts 17:26: "He made out of one man (one blood, KJ) every nation of men," appointing the "bounds of their habitation." A closer look at the context shows that the focus is exactly the reverse: every nation is made from just one man, one blood. All are to seek Him; He "is not far off from each one of us," "we are his offspring," "he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent." Our Father is not our divider, he is our uniter. In Christ, "there is neither Jew nor Greek"; we are all one in union with him. (Gal 3:28, see also Eph 2:11-14.) Therefore, you will not find Christians taking pride in or fighting over invisible boundaries drawn by politicians.

Racists go even further than nationalists, saying that God divided the races and forbids interracial marriage. True, God forbade the Israelites from freely marrying foreigners, but the reason was religious, not racial. (Deut 7:3, 4) If a foreigner proved himself/herself devoted to Jehovah, he/she could marry into the nation. For just three examples out of many, consider that Jesus himself had as ancestors Ruth the Moabitess (non-Israelite) and Rahab of Jericho (a Canaanite, not even Semitic). Even Bathsheba, mother of Solomon, was originally the wife of Uriah "the Hittite," a valiant man in David’s army. (Matt 1:5, 6, 16; Ruth 1:4; Josh 6:25; 2 Sam 11:3; see also Jehovah’s firm defense of interracial marriage in the case of Moses in Numbers 12.)

In later years the Jews perverted God’s law into anti-Gentile racism, regarding all non-Jews as virtually "untouchables." Yes, Gentiles were permitted to convert to Judaism, but even then a certain apartheid was observed, at least by those who considered themselves pure. Peter was exposed to this atmosphere from infancy, so although he was a Christian and an apostle, he had to learn to overcome his prejudice. When God directed him to the home of an Italian man, it mattered not that the man was "righteous and fearing God and well reported on by the whole nation of the Jews"; Peter still would have been reluctant to enter his house, had he not just seen a vision in which he was sternly admonished "You stop calling defiled the things God has cleansed." Peter got the point. On arriving he explained, "You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to join himself to or approach a man of another race; and yet God has shown me that I should call no man defiled or unclean." Seeing their faith, Peter had to admit that "God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him." Then as he was telling them about Christ, "holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word." The Jews with Peter were amazed to see this special gift given to non-Jews, "people of the nations." (see Acts 10, particularly vss 22, 28, 34, 35, 44, 45.)

So they all became Christians and lived happily ever after as one big loving family, right? Well, no; is life ever that simple?

When Peter got back to Jerusalem he had to explain and defend what he had done; some Jewish Christians took exception to it (see Acts 11:1-3). Peter reasoned with them: "If God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I should hinder God?" With that they acknowledged that this really was from God. (vss 17, 18.)

Unfortunately, despite this impressive experience, prejudice persisted. Years later, even Peter was influenced when some Jewish Christians separated themselves from non-Jewish Christians. (see the account at Gal 2:11-14.)

If we are to be loyal to the Kingdom, we must take to heart what God is trying to tell us here. If we have feelings of superiority based on race or ethnicity, we could easily begin to "hinder God." If we say, "sure you can be a fine Christian, and I love you— over there, in your place," we are not thinking like God.

Peter said, "God has shown me that I should call no man defiled or unclean." Does this mean we have no standards, anything goes, "celebrate diversity," as they say in the world, usually as they urge us to tolerate things God declares unclean? No. If a person doesn’t take a bath, calling him unclean is not bigotry, it’s an astute observation. The same applies in a spiritual way. Peter did not say, "Oh, I see! God loves everyone just the way they are!" No, Peter said, "I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him." So God still has standards. What God looks at is not the color or style of the clothing, but whether it is modest; not the tempo of the music, but its temperament; not the flavor of the food, but whether one feeds on his Word; not the lightness or darkness of the skin, but the light or darkness in the heart. —1 Timothy 2:9, 10; Exodus 32:17-19; Matthew 4:4, John 6:51; 2 Peter 1:19, 1 Corinthians 12.13, Malachi 2:10.

Are Christians Neutral?

Some say that a Christian’s proper position relative to the contentious issues of this world, be they political, environmental, or social, is "neutrality." According to the dictionary, neutrality means "noninvolvement in conflicting alliances" and a neutral person is "not aligned with or supporting either side in a dispute or controversy." Why would a person not get involved? In the midst of a terrible conflict being portrayed as a war between good and evil (by both sides of course), if we simply say we are neutral, we will definitely give people the wrong impression. If all we say is "I don’t get involved," most people would see that as being cold, self-serving and indifferent. Do we not care that righteousness triumphs victorious??

Yes, of course we care! Christians are not blind. We can see the sense (if there is any) on both sides of most disputes. On the other hand, we can also see the wrong, the foolishness, the error, on both sides. So which side do we take? How do we tell zealous partisans that neither side is entirely righteous? Must we select the lesser of two evils? Is there any third choice?

You have heard this slogan: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!" To which we say, "Amen!" The next question is, What is the solution? True Christians have found it: it is that incorruptible Kingdom of God, a true government with the power to bring all evil to an abrupt and final end, and to repair all the damage done to creation by mankind. We are doing our utmost to be very much part of this solution. If we are not for God’s Kingdom, we are part of the problem!

The world ridicules such faith; to them God’s Kingdom is pie-in-the-sky, out-of-touch dreaming. "Sure, someday, eventually, but right now we have to deal with this ourselves any way we can," they reason. The true Christian is undeterred. We believe with our whole heart that God’s Kingdom is real, is coming (soon) and it will render all present political controversy moot. As a result, our interest in politics is rather limited. We see this world as like the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. Only those who do not understand what is going down are still interested in straightening the chairs on the deck. Of course, there are better things to do than running around screaming in panic, or jumping overboard into icy waters. Finding a lifeboat comes to mind. . . also helping fellow passengers to safety. "The world is passing away," says inspired scripture. "But he that does the will of God remains forever." We are interested in that. —1 John 2:17.

Democracy and the Kingdom

"My kingdom is no part of this world," Jesus said to Pilate. What did he mean? He clarified: "My kingdom is not from this source." So his Kingdom will not be established by this world. It will not come by politics, or by international conferences, or by treaties, nor will it come by popular vote. The solution, therefore, does not lie in democracy, despite its popularity and its value relative to other forms of government.

Simply put, in democracy the majority prevails. They "have the votes." Therefore the majority must be wise for it to succeed long term. Is that a realistic faith? Many voters are conscientious, but that in itself does not mean they are wise.* Proverbs 14:12 says, "There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward." The most basic lesson of the Bible, established at the very beginning in the garden of Eden, is that mankind is not wise enough to decide his own way without God’s help. No, the Bible teaches that true wisdom is with those who respect godly standards. (Prov 3:5-7, Prov 9:10) But which way is the world going? What system of beliefs control their vote?

Although many practical matters allow for latitude of viewpoint (tax rates, zoning rules, business regulations, etc) there remains a set of moral absolutes which must inform any decision, however small. This fact has been rejected by more people today than you might realize. They have been influenced to adopt the view that what is good depends on when, where, and who you are. For many years this moral relativism has been the official credo of the intellectual elite, those at institutions of higher learning, "producing the leaders of tomorrow." Only tomorrow has become today. And in 2008 the world found that markets without morals are like a car without steering. As they struggle to avoid the cliff, do they admit the root cause? Have they really rediscovered godliness?*

These new leaders have sought to create a new world order, one where they are free to pursue selfish desires, no matter how degraded. To do this they wrap themselves in the flag of freedom and civil rights. They relentlessly and insidiously promote a secular, humanist worldview, denouncing traditional morality as intolerant narrow-mindedness. Millions have succumbed to the constant drumbeat of indoctrination. Even the American president, seeing the winds of popular opinion shifting, has in 2012 endorsed calling homosexual liaisons "marriage". At this late hour, although there remain minorities who fight against abortion, gambling, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality and so on, the majority clearly support, or at least do not seriously oppose, such things. Even if they do not vote in elections, they "vote" at the theater and online. No, if Bible standards of right and wrong were on the ballot today, it is sad to have to say, the majority would not endorse them. Persons with godly wisdom have never been a majority in this world— and never will be. So how could a Christian, with his "extreme and bigoted" views about family life and morality, hope to get elected, or to elect anyone who truly represented him? Instead, the day is upon us that any who offend the sensitivities of perverts by daring to quote scripture will be fined and jailed. —Jeremiah 8:9.

Nor is the problem only with the voters; how can you tell if a politician is lying? "His lips move," is the answer often given. That used to be joke, but no more. A candidate who tries to keep his campaign clean and honest usually gets crushed. Determined to win, expedient politicians have to "fight fire with fire." They study what moves people and know that when emotions conflict with facts, the facts almost always lose. So they carefully choose phrases that incite anxiety, fear, and animosity toward their opponent and his ideas, while glorifying their own half-baked proposals as the salvation of civilization. Those who would dare to point out that their promises are made of catch-phrases and platitudes are painted as out to destroy the country. The voters gather to the side that plays to their prejudices and harden into enemy camps. After the election, this does not a smooth-functioning government make.

As they spend millions to convince voters how worthless their opponent is, what are we to think? Maybe, just this once, they are telling the truth? If even half true, why should we ever vote for such scoundrels and incompetents? And really, if an honest man were to survive the withering crossfire and get into office, his troubles would have only just begun. The system will not allow him to keep his promises or work out his plans. The Golden Rule of politics really is "He who has the gold makes the rules." He will face powerful entrenched agendas: for example, any politician who dares oppose homosexuality can kiss his office good-bye. He will be so thoroughly and viciously savaged in the public media that even his own mother would hesitate to vote for him. "Politics is dirty business," said one veteran politician. So we take to heart what Jesus said: "Every kingdom divided against itself comes to desolation." Is that not a good description of democracy in this world? (For more, read this excerpt of a recent book.)

The most effective politicians blatantly exhibit the spirit of Satan: they search for any weakness in their opponent and attack it relentlessly, without regard for truth or mercy. Only expediency may cause retreat or compromise. The euphemism for this wickedness is "partisanship". How could a conscientious Christian be part of that?

Seeing all this and not blinded by patriotic propaganda, Christians cannot put faith in democracy, or any other form of rule by men apart from God, as a fundamental solution to mankind’s problems. Can a nation who cannot agree who its God is, or even if they are "under God" or not, really be a true beacon of hope? —Matt 12:25; give thought also to James 3:13-16, Psalms 94:20, 146:3, 4 and Isaiah 10:1, 2.

For a scriptural example of a decent politician (didn’t think we could find one, did you?) turn to Luke 23:50. Did he lead God’s own nation of Israel to glory? Surely he wanted to. He voted well. But it didn’t work. Read vss 51 and 52. In the end, all he could do was bury the corpse.

Pilate was a politician. We cannot say he was a good man, but we do note his efforts to free Jesus, because he "found no fault in him." He was trying to do the right thing, but he failed. Why? Because he had to be responsive to the wishes of the people. His job was to keep Rome in power, and the mob was getting unruly. He could call out the soldiers and shed some blood, but wouldn't it be simpler just to let the one man die? He was only a Jew, after all. Making a political calculation, he washed his hands and permitted an injustice. In this case, it was the murder of the firstborn of all creation, although Pilate scarcely realized that. (Luke 23:1-25) Likewise today, politicians face overwhelming pressure to accept some evil in order to accomplish some "good". They may not realize at times the magnitude of their compromise, but they certainly know when they are doing wrong.

Jesus said his followers were "no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world." (John 17:16) If God tells us we are "no part of the world", will he support and bless our inserting ourselves into its corrupt and irreformable political system? Not at all. What would we achieve if we got involved without God’s support? Not much! We would have exactly the same wonderful system we currently suffer from. Consider: are there not already millions deeply involved who sincerely think of themselves as Christians, and to the extent the system makes possible, do try to apply godly principles in the political choices they make? Look at the results, they are all around you. Wise people learn from failure. So true Christians do not use political means, such as voting or lobbying or activism, to try to guide governments in the right direction. The wisdom of God does not make us pessimistic; it makes us realistic. We "don’t have the votes." Sure, we’re disillusioned, and happy for it; we don’t want to believe in illusions.

Jehovah teaches us to acknowledge our limitations. The popular exhortation "you can do anything you set your mind to, you can be anything you want to be" is in fact an echo of the snake’s deceptive words to Eve. (Genesis 3:4, 5) Experience has proven Jeremiah’s observation: "I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man to direct his step. Correct me, O Jehovah." (Jer 10:23, 24) Without that correction, we would make mistakes even if we were trying to use wisdom derived from God. We just do not have the comprehension of all factors like our Creator does. That is why we need his Kingdom.

James warns: "Friendship with the world is enmity with God. . . whoever wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God." (4:4) James is not telling us here to be aloof and arrogant toward everyone who does not share our faith, viewing them all as sworn enemies of God. Loving-kindness, not haughtiness, is the spirit of Christ. In this verse, the word "world" does not refer to the people as individuals. It is aimed at the system of things, the structure of society as organized (or more accurately, disorganized) out of harmony with God. Being a friend of the world means trying to "have a friend in Washington", or supporting big business as it exploits people and pollutes the earth, or in any other way trying to fit in and be accepted by those who do not respect God enough to obey him. Christians cannot just "go along to get along" or worse, "go along to get ahead."

Jesus tells us: "If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you." (John 15:19) Ordinary people, trying to be part of the world, will misunderstand our position and perhaps look at us as condemning them, as trying to be superior to them. No, we are just trying to do what is right, to see things through the eyes of God. If that makes anyone feel disrespected, we regret that they feel that way. But we will not disrespect God. He is both our loving Father and the fearsome Almighty.

A few more thoughts on political involvement

Some say we "vote" even when we fail to vote. Is that true? Are we not saying, ‘I accept things as they are’ when we do not vote for change? No; there are three choices in voting: the incumbents, the opposition, or choices not on the ballot. Any could in theory be equally valid. Are we to be faulted for taking the last option, which can only be selected by not voting?

"Even the minority have a voice when they vote," some cheerfully (and rather naïvely) say. In truth we find our voice much louder when we speak to the people directly. Most of the people don’t listen, and likewise neither does the government. But we see voting as an exceptionally ineffective way to have our voice heard.

Our Commander Jesus tells us what to do: "Go, teach all the things I have commanded." So Christians are to be persuasive communicators to the world, seeking to move individuals to adopt the standards of Christianity. Insofar as we succeed, we improve the community, the nation, and the world. Voting, which is after all just a polling to determine the will of the majority, is not part of this work. But Christians do not believe that they will be so persuasive that they turn the world from its descent into destruction. Jesus said (at Matthew 7:13, 14) that the majority (including voters) choose the "broad and spacious road" (that is, the easy and popular one) leading to destruction. Only a small minority seek out and follow the cramped and difficult road leading to life. This is the most important vote, the one with our feet. Which way are you "voting" today?

What if the law of the land requires that we vote? Insofar as a vote is an officially arranged way for the people to inform a government of what they think of them (or of an issue), Christians have no objection to voicing their opinion. But if a vote only allows us to select from a limited set of choices, none of which we approve, what is the point of that? If an election offered "none of the above" as an option (it rarely does), a Christian might fulfill his legal duty by taking advantage of that. But whatever we do, we do not want to give the impression that we put faith in the election as the answer to the country's problems. Nor would we be happy if anyone believed we were a political partisan, approving either the winner or the opposition. (In some countries this can be quite dangerous.) This dilemma leads to one conclusion: the best choice (albeit not without risk itself) is to tactfully explain that although we are informed on the issues involved, this election does not offer any choices that we favor, so we elect to leave it up to others to make the choice. In effect, we would make known our "neutrality," although not necessarily using that word if it would cause misunderstanding. If at all possible, we would also try to explain and advocate faith in God's Kingdom, the real solution to all problems.

Social Activism

If you are a Christian and keep up with current events, you may understandably be very discouraged about the direction society is heading in this 21st century. Long-treasured traditional values, the foundations of civilization, are now being branded as bigoted, intolerant, dangerous, and hateful, while perversions and self-centered disregard for human life are being dressed up with glowing words of praise in the media. The murder of nearly born infants by sucking their brains out the base of the skull is lightly called "choice." Disgustingly filthy and degrading sexual behavior almost guaranteed to cause transmission of dread diseases is called a "natural and loving orientation." Other self-destructive behavior, such as "recreational drug use," is nominally deplored, but laws and actions intended to curb such things are thwarted by clever lawyers and judges. It is frustrating to watch these things mount up despite the protests and endless "discussions" in legislatures and courts. You may note that those working to establish a humanist order have no scruples: they do not hesitate to twist words and baldly lie to demonize all that a Christian considers sacred. You may sense a kind of pressure developing as the rhetoric becomes more and more heated. Is a social explosion coming? What should a Christian loyal to God's Kingdom do?

Loyalty to the Kingdom requires us to speak out the truth, to declare boldly what is righteous and moral. This will increasingly expose us to ridicule and persecution as the end draws near. We may be tempted to become more forceful. Many in Christendom sincerely believe they are held responsible to do their utmost to stem the tide; to not at least try would make them complicit in the wickedness. They urgently lobby politicians, they contribute heavily to candidates and parties that tell them what they want to hear, they march with placards, they write letters to editors. Their heart is in the right place, but they do not see the situation as clearly as they could. Christians will always be outsiders to this world; anything else is an illusion. Politicians will use us if we let them, but they will drop us when the wind shifts. Pinning our hopes on corrupted worldly governments is foolish. The rot goes far deeper than we can see on the surface.*

Not that all politicians are evil; some may just as sincerely want to turn things back. They find out what they are up against only after they are deeply engaged in the system. So many promising starters have been turned to "the dark side." Incidentally, a recent book about the US government was titled "It's Even Worse Than It Looks."

Some have taken matters to heart so intensely that they harass and threaten those who defend, promote or commit evil, for example, abortionists and those who go to their "clinics." Standing idly by as innocent children are destroyed is so distressing that taking violent action to stop it could be seen as the only moral way to respond. In feeling this they have millennia of precedent in justifications given for military action and revolution. Even scripture concurs: "Deliver those who are being taken away to death; and those staggering to the slaughter, O may you hold them back. In case you should say [later]: "Look! We did not know of this," will not He himself that is making an estimate of hearts discern it, and He himself that is observing your soul know and certainly pay back to earthling man according to his activity?" Clearly God holds us accountable to do what we can to defend helpless innocents. —Prov 24:11, 12.

Are there any limits to this? Yes: We are at war, spiritually, and we are a spiritual army. That means we have a Commander, Christ. We have to fight as he directs. Our anger at the depravity of God's enemies may make us want to strike out at them, but we have to keep in check, remembering that "man's wrath does not work out God's righteousness." (James 1:20) Christ faced a world in his time that also was filled with reasons to be wrathful. Indeed he did express wrath at those who exploited the weak while piously proclaiming their righteousness. We can only imagine what power he might have had to do them harm, but he did not use it. That was not his mission at that time. He knew there was a time set for that (see 2 Thess 1:6-10).

After Christ returned to heaven, the early Christians continued to face a world of moral darkness, filled with injustice and cruelty. Christ did not give them power to overthrow governments. He told them to preach to all nations the good news of the heavenly kingdom coming, to "open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, in order for them to receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance." (Acts 26:18) Paul said (as noted earlier) "the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly [such as swords, or guns and bombs], but they are powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. By them we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; and we are bringing every thought [of those whom we ‘conquer’] into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ."

Paul waged the Christian warfare boldly, zealously, and skillfully, so he could later say: "I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20.26) No, he had not saved the world, reformed the empire, chained the dragon. He had just done what he was given to do as a true soldier of Christ. Likewise today: our assignment is to warn the wicked and teach the teachable. That is the limit of our responsibility to the world. God claims the job of executing vengeance on those who reject him, so we too can be "clean from the blood of all men."

This viewpoint does not absolve those who are empowered to enforce justice. Pilate by his political office was thrust into the position of passing judgment on an innocent man, Jesus. (Matt 27.15-26) He could not simply wash his hands and be free of bloodguilt, because he had legal authority to set Jesus free; he was in a ready position to do something about the false charges. Likewise, should a Christian be a lawyer (it's not impossible, as improbable as it may seem) he would be responsible to use his position to defend truth regardless of its effect on his client. He would not be required to mount a crusade in the courts, however.

To his everlasting shame, Pilate did wash his hands. But Jesus' disciples also stood back and let him be taken away. Was God angry at them for not defending Jesus by force of arms? No, for Jesus had forbidden them that choice. (see John 18.36, Matt 26.47-53. As discussed earlier in this chapter, that would have been more symbolic than effective anyway.) So too God does not hold us bloodguilty for not using violence to oppose the legalized murder of innocent preborn children. The bloodguilt lies with those authorities who permit and sanction such murder. We would, however, be held bloodguilty if we remained silent. —Ezek 33.8, 9.

Jesus gave the example of how to publicize the truth. He did not follow the Pharisees around and harass them. But he certainly was strong, bold and thorough in exposing their wickedness to the public. —see Matt 23.23-33.

In the first century Mediterranean world perhaps 20% of the population (in Rome, up to 30%) were slaves, legally owned by their fellowmen, bound to absolute obedience no matter how oppressive. Some sadistic masters could be unimaginably cruel. Many slaves were captives of war and treated worse than livestock. If there was ever a social cause that early Christianity could have taken up, surely it would have been slavery. Yet it was only in the 19th century that nominal Christians finally convinced enough people to begin abolition. (Slavery is still common in Muslim countries, one source estimating about 12 million in Africa and the Middle East*.) What took so long?

You may be interested in this website: the Anti-Slavery Society.
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In the first century Christianity had no influence in society. Just making the few converts that they did stirred up intense persecution. So directly trying to overthrow the social order of the day, without divine authorization, would have been a brief experiment. What, then, did they do? They reformed those who did listen. How did this work?

When a slaveowner became a believer, he might set his slaves free, but he did not have to. That might not in fact have been in their best interests. A slave with a Christian master could actually be better off than a freeman in that world; a freed slave was still not a citizen and would have few rights. He was better protected under the law as someone's property. So we find no scripture urging slaveowners to free their slaves; rather it says "You masters, keep dealing out what is righteous and what is fair to your slaves, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." (Col 4:1; see also Eph 6:9.)

A slave might also become a Christian, either after his master did, or on his own. That it was possible for a slave to do this clues us in that not all slaves lived such a bedarkened life as we tend to imagine today. People were human back then just as we are today, so there were masters covering the full range from beastly tyrants to kindly father-figures. And slaves covered the range from lazy and rebellious to skilled tradesmen or stewards proud to be part of a successful household. Some masters would journey away for months, entrusting his family and house to his slaves, allowing them considerable initiative to manage things in his absence. (Compare Luke 7.2, 3, Matt 25.14-23; see also Eccl 5:12.) What counsel did Christianity give to slaves?

Paul gave his protégé Timothy this inspired advice to pass on: "Let as many as are slaves under a yoke keep on considering their owners worthy of full honor, that the name of God and the teaching may never be spoken of injuriously. Moreover, let those having believing owners not look down on [their Christian owners], because they are brothers. On the contrary, let them the more readily be slaves, because those receiving the benefit of their good service are believers and beloved. Keep on teaching these things and giving these exhortations." (1 Tim 6:1, 2) To the Colossian congregation he wrote: "You slaves, be obedient in everything to those who are your masters in a fleshly sense, not with acts of eye-service, as men pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, with fear of God. Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to the Lord, and not to men, for you know that it is from the Lord you will receive the due reward of the inheritance. Slave for the Master, Christ." (Col 3.22-24)

What if their master was not a kindly Christian? Peter counsels "Let house servants be in subjection to their owners with all [due] fear, not only to the good and reasonable, but also to those hard to please. For if someone because of conscience toward God bears up under grievous things and suffers unjustly, this is an agreeable [or honorable] thing. What merit is there in it if, when you are sinning and being punished, you endure it? But if you are doing good and yet endure suffering, this is a thing agreeable [carries merit] with God."

Was that their only choice, to suck it up and take unlimited abuse? No, that was not Peter's point. God's own law to Israel provided that runaway slaves were not to be returned to their master perforce. Although the Law permitted slavery and forced (or obligatory) labor, it forbade cruelty. Not that everyone obeyed the law, but at least God stated his view of it. —see De 23.15, 16; Ex 21.20, 26, 27, De 5.14. Compare Job 31:13-15. See also 1 Tim 5:18, 1 Cor 9:9, 10, where God says that a worker's compensation should include access to the product of his labor. Not just bulls, but human workers too.

If a slave became a Christian, he was not told ‘slavery is your karma/fate/will-of-God for you, be happy or else.’ On the contrary, speaking past the slaveowner directly to the slave, Paul advises: "Were you called [to Christ] when a slave? Do not let it worry you; but if you can also become free, rather seize the opportunity. For anyone in the Lord that was called when a slave is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he that was called when a freeman is [now] a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men." (1 Cor 7.21-23) Paul was not saying to walk off the job, but even in those days many slaves could save up and buy their freedom or otherwise work out a deal. If that was a practical option, it could free them up to serve the true Master, Christ, more fully. Christ bought all of us from our old master, sin, with "a price," his precious blood. We are His slaves now. No kinder Master could we have, but he still requires obedience. If we understand that, we would never seek to voluntarily indenture ourselves to men. In another place Paul says "Am I seeking to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I would not be Christ's slave." —Gal 1.10. See also Romans 6:16-23, Matt 10:32-38.

You might think this discussion a bit dated, since President Lincoln abolished slavery in 1863. Actually, that did not change things as much as you may have been led to believe (see also this webpage). If you are a non-union blue-collar factory worker, and especially if you are an "undocumented" (illegal) immigrant, you need no further explanation. Many employees today below the level of upper management are not really so different from some slaves of long ago, except for modern laws that somewhat regulate abuse of authority. An employee is not really the master of his economic situation. The job market is not really a free market; he works at the pleasure of those who desire his skills. On the job, he is dependent on his company owners to organize and manage the enterprise successfully, and they have to depend on him to do his job well without excessive supervision. In the same way, ancient slaves were dependent on their owners to be successful managers, and the owner was dependent on his slaves to get the work done. Although he could 'motivate' them by threats and punishment, and could be cruelly exploitative (sound familiar?), surely many masters understood that treating a slave fairly got better work out of him or her. Some slaves prospered to the point they could buy their freedom, which would be scarcely imaginable if their owner was forcing them to work dawn to dark without any compensation. Others loved their situation so much that they turned down opportunities to obtain freedom. The fact that a poor freeman didn't have much legal protection made the relative security of having an owner to watch out for him a fairly passable deal. Similarly today, compare the risks of owning your own business versus just being an employee, letting others deal with the lawyers and the government.

Paul's advice to seize our freedom might encourage us to do just that: quit our job and become self-employed. If you can take the strain, go for it. (In today's uncertain economy, you may have to 'go for it' sooner than you had planned.) Whatever we choose, always uppermost in our mind is giving our true Master our best. We would not seek freedom just to become rich, or to serve ourselves.

Environmental Activism

Christians are also deeply interested in the first command Jehovah gave to mankind: "Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection . . . every living creature that is moving upon the earth." The first humans were placed in a prepared paradise garden, which was clearly to be their model for transforming the rest of the planet. So "subduing" the earth did not mean laying it waste, it meant managing it to produce a desirable environment. Needless to say, that hasn't been accomplished yet. So many men are utterly selfish and shortsighted, considering only what yields immediate dollar profit. And of course we can do much damage without even realizing it at first, due to our limited understanding of the complex ecology. Some feel that we should all revert to a primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but on closer study that is not necessarily ecologically benign either. Quite a few species were hunted to extinction long before the present industrial age began spewing out its marvelous mix of poisons. What would God have us do today?

Again, God’s Kingdom is the answer: it will "bring to ruin those ruining the earth." Until then Christians have to live in the world as it is. God looks at us to see how much we care, so if we are among those who are ruining the earth, either physically or spiritually, we will soon feel his hot displeasure. But, He has not given us an ecological gospel to preach. Our focus is not on learning how to be perfect environmentalists. He does not expect us to wear natural-fiber robes and sandals and walk everywhere. We are not graded on how much money we give to environmental causes. It is sufficient to be interested, to be aware, and to take reasonable measures within practical limits*. Becoming a fanatic and a zealot will not make any dent compared to what Jehovah himself will soon do, so rather than taking on His job, we stick to the assignment He has given us: preach the Kingdom as the answer. —Rev 11:18.

Part 4: Making God’s Heart Rejoice  |   Back to top

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Acts 17:26
He made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of their dwelling, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although he is, in fact, not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among you have said, 'For we are also his offspring.' Seeing, therefore, that we are the offspring of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and contrivance of man. True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent.

Gal 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:11-14
Therefore keep bearing in mind that formerly you were people of the nations as to flesh; "uncircumcision" you were called by that which is called "circumcision" made in the flesh with hands— that you were at that particular time without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise, and you had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ. For he is our peace, he who made the two parties one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off.

Deut 7:3, 4
You must form no marriage alliance with them. Your daughter you must not give to his son, and his daughter you must not take for your son. For he will turn your son from following me, and they will certainly serve other gods; and Jehovah's anger will indeed blaze against you, and he will certainly annihilate you in a hurry.

Matt 1:5, 6, 16
Salmon became father to Boaz by Rahab; Boaz became father to Obed by Ruth; Obed became father to Jesse; Jesse became father to David the king. David became father to Solomon by the wife of Uriah. . . 16 Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

Ruth 1:4
Later the men took wives for themselves, Moabite women. The name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they went on dwelling there for about ten years.

Joshua 6:25
And Rahab the prostitute and the household of her father and all who belonged to her, Joshua preserved alive; and she dwells in the midst of Israel down to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent out to spy on Jericho.

2 Samuel 11:3 Then David sent and inquired about the woman and someone said: "Is this not Bath-sheba the daughter of Eliam the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"

Acts 10:22
They said: “Cornelius, an army officer, a man righteous and fearing God and well reported by the whole nation of the Jews, was given divine instructions by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear the things you have to say.”
Acts 10:28
He said to them: “You well know how unlawful it is for a Jew to join himself to or approach a man of another race; and yet God has shown me I should call no man defiled or unclean.”
Acts 10:34-35
At this Peter opened his mouth and said: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”
Acts 10:44-45
While Peter was yet speaking about these matters the holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word. And the faithful ones that had come with Peter who were of those circumcised were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations!

Acts 11:1-3
Now the apostles and the brothers that were in Judea heard that people of the nations had also received the word of God. So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who favored circumcision began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them.
17, 18 [Peter answers:] "If, therefore, God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I should hinder God?" Now when they heard these things, they acquiesced, and they glorified God, saying: "Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also."

Gal 2:11-14
However, when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class. The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barnabas was led along with them in their pretense. But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: "If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?"

1 Timothy 2:9, 10
Likewise I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb, but in the way that befits women professing to reverence God, namely, through good works.

Exodus 32:17-19
And Joshua began to hear the noise of the people because of their shouting, and he proceeded to say to Moses: "There is a noise of battle in the camp!" But he said: "It is not the sound of the singing over mighty performance, and it is not the sound of the singing of defeat; It is the sound of other singing that I am hearing." So it came about that as soon as he got near the camp and could see the calf [idol] and the dances, Moses' anger began to blaze, and he at once threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.

Matthew 4:4
But in reply [Jesus] said: "It is written, 'Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah's mouth.'"

John 6:51
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.

2 Peter 1:19
From this we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts."

1 Corinthians 12.13
For truly by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit.

Malachi 2:10
Is it not one father that all of us have? Is it not one God that has created us? Why is it that we deal treacherously with one another, in profaning the covenant of our forefathers?

Prov 3:5-7
Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.

Prov 9:10
The fear of Jehovah is the start of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Most Holy One is what understanding is.

Jeremiah 5:27-29
Their houses are full of deception. That is why they have become great and they gain riches. They have grown fat; they have become shiny. They have also overflowed with bad things. No legal case have they pleaded, even the legal case of the fatherless boy, that they may gain success; and the judgment of the poor ones they have not taken up. Should I not hold an accounting because of these very things, is the utterance of Jehovah, or on a nation that is like this should not my soul avenge itself?

Jeremiah 22.13
Woe to the one building his house, but not with righteousness, and his upper chambers, but not with justice, by use of his fellowman who serves for nothing, and whose wages he does not give him.

Jeremiah 8:9
The wise ones have become ashamed. They have become terrified and will be caught. Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?

Matt 12:25
Knowing their thoughts, he said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself comes to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

James 3:13-16
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, animal, demonic. For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there disorder and every vile thing are.

Psalms 94:20
Will the throne causing adversities be allied with you
While it is framing trouble by decree?

Ps 146:3, 4
Do not put your trust in nobles,
Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.
His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground;
In that day his thoughts [or plans] do perish.

Isaiah 10:1, 2
Woe to those who are enacting harmful regulations and those who, constantly writing, have written out sheer trouble, in order to push away the lowly ones from a legal case and to wrest away justice from the afflicted ones of my people, for the widows to become their spoil, and that they may plunder even the fatherless boys!

Luke 23:50-52
And, look! a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man— he had not voted in support of their design and action— he was from Arimathea, a city of the Judeans, and was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Genesis 3:4, 5
At this the serpent said to the woman: "You certainly will not die! For God knows that at the moment you eat from it your eyes are sure to be opened and you are sure to be like God, knowing good and bad."
(As discussed in chapter 2 of this book, she did NOT become wise when she ate, and we've been proving it ever since.)

Matthew 7:13, 14
Go in through the narrow gate, because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate, and cramped the road, leading off into life; and few are the ones finding it.

2 Thess 1:6-10
This takes into account that it is righteous on God's part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you. But to you who suffer tribulation, [you will get] relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These will undergo the punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, when he is glorified in his holy ones, and seen as wonderful in that day by all those who have exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among you.

Matt 27.15-26
Now from festival to festival it was the custom of the governor to release a prisoner to the crowd, the one they wanted. Just at that time they were holding a notorious prisoner called Bar-abbas. Hence when they were gathered together Pilate said to them: "Which one do you want me to release to you, Bar-abbas or Jesus the so-called Christ?" For he was aware that it was out of envy they had handed him over. Moreover, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent out to him, saying: "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I suffered a lot today in a dream because of him." But the chief priests and the older men persuaded the crowds to ask for Bar-abbas, but to have Jesus destroyed. Now in responding the governor said to them: "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" They said: "Bar-abbas." Pilate said to them: "What, then, shall I do with Jesus the so-called Christ?" They all said: "Let him be impaled!" He said: "Why, what bad thing did he do?" Still they kept crying out all the more: "Let him be impaled!"
Seeing that it did no good but, rather, an uproar was arising, Pilate took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying: "I am innocent of the blood of this man. You yourselves must see to it." At that all the people said in answer: "His blood come upon us and upon our children." Then he released Bar-abbas to them, but he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be impaled.

John 18:36
Jesus answered: "My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source."

Matthew 26:47-53
And while he was yet speaking, look! Judas, one of the twelve, came and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs from the chief priests and older men of the people. Now his betrayer had given them a sign, saying: "Whoever it is I kiss, this is he; take him into custody." And going straight up to Jesus he said: "Good day, Rabbi!" and kissed him very tenderly. But Jesus said to him: "Fellow, for what purpose are you present?" Then they came forward and laid hands on Jesus and took him into custody. But, look! one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest and took off his ear. Then Jesus said to him: "Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?"

Ezek 33.8, 9
When I say to [you about] someone wicked, "O wicked one, you will surely die!" but you do not speak out to warn the wicked one from his way, he himself as a wicked one will die in his own error, but his blood I shall ask back at your own hand. But as regards you, in case you do warn someone wicked from his way, to turn him back from it, but he actually does not turn back from his way, he himself will die in his own error, whereas you yourself will have certainly delivered your own soul.

Matt 23.23-33
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel! "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside of it also may become clean.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way you also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the graves of the prophets and decorate the memorial tombs of the righteous ones, and you say, ‘If we were in the days of our forefathers, we would not be sharers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are bearing witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Well, then, fill up the measure of your forefathers.
"Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?"
[Gehenna: literally, 'valley of Hinnom', Jerusalem's garbage dump. See chapter 8.]

Eph 6:9
Also, you masters, keep doing the same things to them, letting up on the threatening, for you know that the Master of both them and you is in the heavens, and there is no partiality with him.

Luke 7.2, 3
Now a certain army officer’s slave, who was dear to him, was ailing and was about to pass away. When he heard about Jesus, he sent forth older men of the Jews to him to ask him to come and bring his slave safely through.

Matthew 25:14-23
For it is just as when a man, about to travel abroad, summoned slaves of his and committed to them his belongings. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to still another one, to each one according to his own ability, and he went abroad. Immediately the one that received the five talents went his way and did business with them and gained five more. In the same way the one that received the two gained two more. But the one that received just one went off, and dug in the ground and hid the silver money of his master. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. So the one that had received five talents came forward and brought five additional talents, saying, ‘Master, you committed five talents to me; see, I gained five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Next the one that had received the two talents came forward and said, ‘Master, you committed to me two talents; see, I gained two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Ecclesiastes 5:12
Sweet is the sleep of the one serving, regardless of whether it is little or much that he eats; but the plenty belonging to the rich one is not permitting him to sleep.

De 23.15, 16
You must not hand over a slave to his master when he escapes from his master to you. With you he will keep on dwelling in among you in whatever place he may choose in one of your cities, wherever he likes. You must not maltreat him.

Exodus 21:20
In case a man strikes his slave man or his slave girl with a stick and that one actually dies under his hand, that one is to be avenged without fail.

Exodus 21:26-27
In case a man should strike the eye of his slave man or the eye of his slave girl and he really ruins it, he is to send him away as one set free in compensation for his eye. And if it should be the tooth of his slave man or the tooth of his slave girl that he knocks out, he is to send him away as one set free in compensation for his tooth.

Deuteronomy 5:14
But the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God. You must not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter nor your slave man nor your slave girl nor your bull nor your ass nor any domestic animal of yours nor your alien resident who is inside your gates, in order that your slave man and your slave girl may rest the same as you.

Job 31:13-15
If I used to refuse the judgment of my slave man
Or of my slave girl in their case at law with me,
Then what can I do when God rises up?
And when he calls for an accounting, what can I answer him?
Did not the One making me in the belly make him,
And did not just One proceed to prepare us in the womb?

1 Tim 5:18
For the scripture says: "You must not muzzle a bull when it threshes out the grain"; also: "The workman is worthy of his wages."

1 Cor 9:9, 10
For in the law of Moses it is written: "You must not muzzle a bull when it is threshing out the grain." Is it bulls God is caring for? Or is it altogether for our sakes he says it? Really for our sakes it was written, because the man who plows ought to plow in hope and the man who threshes ought to do so in hope of being a partaker.

Romans 6:16-23
Do you not know that if you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him, either of sin, leading to death, or of obedience, leading to righteousness? But thanks to God that although you were the slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were handed over [to be slave to]. Yes, since you were set free from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh: for even as you [had] presented your members as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness, leading to lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, leading to holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free as to righteousness. What, then, was the fruit that you used to have at that time? Things of which you are now ashamed. For the end of those things is death. However, now, because you were set free from sin but became slaves to God, you are having your fruit in the way of holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matt 10:38-30
Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with him before my Father who is in the heavens; but whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens. Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household. He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his execution timber and follow after me is not worthy of me.

This is the absolute loyalty that Christ as Master expects and requires. Only those ready to be his slave will be given life. Of course, slavery to Christ is not miserable: he assures us at Matt 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild and humble in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light."

The review questions are linked to the last section of multi-part chapters.

They often are not even well-informed; politicians have a well-earned reputation for avoiding direct, clear answers. And what seems at first to be direct and clear can on reflection be found to have been highly selective, ignoring important facts. A biased media pretends to inform the electorate, but slants in favor of one side, against another, and ignore all other views. Partisan activists baldly lie to arouse indignation against the other side, depending on voters to not check the facts (not always easy to do) but to vote instead on fear or anger. Voters seek out strident voices that confirm their own prejudices, refusing to even briefly consider any other views. For good reason the American founding fathers did not trust the general population to be wise, allowing only gentry to vote at first; and two centuries of public schooling has not given reliable wisdom to the masses, though that has been its purpose.
If you try to be politically informed by watching television interviews and commentary, you will either be enraged against the side being ridiculed or enraged that your side is being so dishonestly savaged. Or if more contemplative in nature, you will be frustrated by the lack of depth of real information. Talk shows are designed to produce heat (and thereby ratings), not light. They are not designed to help the public to thoughtfully judge the merits of proposed solutions by examining them in any detail or by exploring with tight logic any possible consequences of alternate choices. They assume the public is too dense or disinterested for such things, and just praise the proposals they favor with generalities and demonize the alternatives with disinformation and distortions. Even when asked a good pointed question, politicians are masters of the dodge and know they can run out the clock (radio and TV work on a tight schedule.) On this our "democracy" is "working." You think?
Some have pointed out that America is not a democracy, but a republic. That is supposed to mean that LAW, beginning with the Constitution, trumps the will of the people— until the people change the law. This they can only do by representatives, not directly, and these representatives are supposed to be more deliberative and wise than the masses. In actual practice, law is what the influential and powerful say it is, and the representatives are mostly "wise" in getting re-elected, often by perverting and corrupting the electoral process (see 'gerrymander'). But we can say this: the representatives do represent the people who keep re-electing them, short-sightedness and selfishness included.
How to wreck a nation: Imagine a long-established successful company employing many workers at living wages, making things that people need, appliances that last for decades. Such are the foundation of a sound economy. Now comes a "private equity firm" that borrows billions from investors (trying to make money out of money) to "buy" the company. They pay themselves huge "fees" from the borrowed money, then resell the company to other investors trying to make money with their money. Walking away with billions from the sale, they leave the company and its new owners deep in debt. The story ends with workers jobless outside bankrupted factories, and the last investors with heavy losses. Or, desperate to make money, the last investors move the work overseas to exploit slave-wage workers making a product redesigned to be as cheap as possible so that it barely lasts until the warranty runs out. Then the thieves, the only ones who end up with wealth, pay the politicians to tell us that this is PROGRESS. And we will all be fine if we just WORK HARD and PLAY BY THE RULES. And that is not YOUR money stacked around me, I EARNED it.

Obvious lesson that is apparently difficult to learn: "making" money by shuffling money around is NOT the foundation of a sound economy.

We are reminded of poor villagers in Africa that run toward a leaking gasoline pipeline with buckets and lit cigarettes. The thieves, that is, the speculators, that pump the global economy to their advantage with things like "hostile takeovers", "derivatives", "short selling" and "credit default swaps" are really the same. Greed and desperate poverty blinds the poor villagers to the conflagration ahead. In the same way, greed and utter poverty of morality blinds the financial gamblers to the economic destruction they cause. But in their case, it is our 'village', our homes, in time even the nation, and some fear the entire global economy, that is engulfed— while they have not even been singed. Yet. —see Jeremiah 5:27-29, 22.13.
For example, not littering, being very careful and sparing with pesticides, taking advantage of available recycling programs, buying quality products that have a long service life (and taking good care of them) rather than having a throw-away mentality, and so on. Basic, common sense things, really. Although some think that anyone who owns an SUV must surely hate the earth, that is a choice to be weighed in the light of many factors. We would not get one just for status, but if we often have to drive on rough roads, or off-road (such as to take the word to people in rural areas), an SUV might be our most reasonable choice.