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  • Pastor John Gooding, DMin

MYOPIC LEADERSHIP and the COMMONWEALTH

Nearsightedness: lack of imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight.

(COVID-19’s impact on cultural Myopia in church and government)


My wife and I were in Kenya, Africa in 1988. We were thinking about becoming missionaries and were preaching in a suburb of Nairobi. On our way to church one night we became stuck in a traffic jam. It was not unusual to experience heavy traffic. On this occasion, however, we began to hear screams of distress as we neared the scene of an accident. A bus had run over one of the passengers—as the bus was rolling to the bus stop—he tried to jump off. It stopped on top of his legs. Other passengers, unaware of the accident were trying to board the bus while others were trying to get off. No one was trying to get the injured man out of his situation. Finally, the pastor ran up to the bus driver and got him to move the bus, carefully, off of the man’s legs. We then drove to the nearby police station and reported the accident and asked for the police and an ambulance to be sent to the scene. Looking back at it now, I think it was probably presumption of my western mindset to think that either the police or the ambulance were sent.

Americans have always, for many generations, valued human life. Even though, in slave years and the following decades of segregation, with all the racial slights and crimes—there was a very different view of certain lives. Still, as the Japanese marveled in WWII as an American Submarine was brought close to shore to rescue a downed pilot, that a ship of vast value would be risked for one airman’s life. They could hardly comprehend such a risk.


We are a ways away from WWII today and also a ways away from the value we once had for human life. In a national crisis likened—by more than one American and many onlookers from other nations—to a war we are seeing hoarding and price gouging as the mere tip of the iceberg. The Senate—as many say, the most exclusive and wealthiest club on the planet—cannot come together on an aide package for the American people because of the relentless demand for more and more “personal (as in my constituents)” pork on the bill or some other one item agenda like Rand Paul’s fight against wars in the Middle East.


What we are seeing is the collapse of the ability to govern when people elect a person on the basis of one personal issue. A personal issue like LBGTQ+ or whatever it is called today. Certainly, there are issues that ought to be no brainers and not on the platform of any party. It is irresponsible to put murder on the platform of any party. Nor should child sacrifice or anything that harms the heart and destiny of a child. Relegating citizens deemed non-productive as seniors, disabled and otherwise incapacitated does not lessen their value as a human, a creation of God—fearfully and wonderfully made...

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." {Psalms 139:14}

We used to say that people with optimistic outlooks looked at the world through “rose colored glasses.” They might say today, “I’m lookin’ at the world through ma’ rose colored glasses.” Today many are lookin’ at the world through “morose “ colored glasses. Their sullen, ill-tempered and angry disposition is always affecting their worldview. It is morose until they get their way. Until they get what they want by political antics and filibustering. They have little to do with what enhances others or the whole. That is, what helps the commonwealth or “all of us” collectively.


Fifty states are somewhat independent of one another. However, none are too big to fail. And if one fails all are affected. If one hoards all the resources then others go without. Is it ludicrous or is it not—that this nation cannot get toilet paper to the stores for consumers or at one point, water? Are you kidding? The reality is that the fifty are one and the one is fifty. As Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” He went on to say that what he meant was that they had opportunity to do something none of them could do alone. We have opportunity to defeat coronavirus if we hang together. We have opportunity to win the world to Jesus if we all hang together. If we do not view our lives as bound together in a commonwealth we shall all suffer the consequences.


The same in true in every church. We are many members but all part of one body. It is the work and survival of the body that is crucial in any endeavor of the church. Jesus said, “They’ll know you … by your love for one another.” (John 13:35) He was talking about disciples. They would be known as his disciples because of their love for one another. There is no one member of less value or worth. How much is a soul worth? More than a submarine, I think. That is like Jesus saying to Peter that forgiveness was not given one, two or three times but by seventy sevens. In other words, incalculable.


What happens when government is based on individuals all with a myopic vision of a single agenda? The same thing that happens in a church where everyone has their own narrow and self-oriented agenda—either it 1) fails to continue in existence or, 2) nothing really gets done. There is no impact for Christ and self begins to wither, especially in the heat of the day or the crisis of life, because it is no longer connected to the vine. In my previous post to you, I was not advocating the abandonment of your church for a church without walls. On the contrary, I was simply making the point that the church with walls is irrelevant if there is no discipleship and no witness outside of those four walls. There must be a breaking of the stained-glass barrier as Richard Womack wrote in 1973. It is still true today.

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