"Twelve Steps" for Our Citizens, Our States, and the Whole USA
By Craig M. Szwed
This may not be terribly original, but sometimes we just need to review the way we do things. Someone once told me that we are probably insane if we keep expecting different results from our actions even though we refuse to change the way we do things. Doctors may or may not consider that as part of the definition of insanity, but such irrational expectations can definitely push us beyond rational behavior, and with terrible consequences.
Given that my own flesh is sometimes quick to react to what I do not like, I'm sure that many of us are quite willing to point fingers at the addictions of our state and federal governments; addictions to money, power, self-indulgence, and a collective, revisionistic ignorance of history, and fear of standing up for godly principles. But, let's be honest. How many of us are willing to look honestly at our own lives and admit to our own human failings? We love to throw stones, but we are not happy when the stones are hurled at us. What can we do to break away from the sin, excesses, and addictions that we all love so much, without having to hit bottom, or destroying our states and nation, or letting others destroy us?
Many bibilcal and secular writers have lamented our need to repent of the many evils that beset us, and with which we tantalize ourselves, telling us to focus on our need to turn away from sinful tendencies and to embrace and do the things as God desires of us; things that are genuinely good for us. Many critics have posed the problem of the need for reform, but, by what mechanism can we actually turn away from the failures and weaknesses of our nature and our past, if we are ever to expect any realistic, godly changes in our own lives and our society?
Our desire for social recovery from political or social ills challenges us to probe far deeper than voting, campaign promises, backroom deals, political name-calling, or satires. We need to profoundly assess who and what we are, personally, and assess our own actions, or lack thereof, before we point fingers elsewhere. While Christ and the Apostles said plainly that we can only be saved from our sin by "repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ", mankind tends to be much more wordy, as in the following challenge, that I've adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step Program. As many people are aware, the AA program was designed to help addicts get out of their self-destructive ruts Well, believe me, our Nation is in a self-destructive rut, and has been for a long time. We are too conformed to the ways of the world.
I completely believe and trust in all that the Bible says, therefor, my adaptation of AA's "Twelve Steps" recovery program goes beyond the vague phrasings in their own "12 Steps" language. Whether we personally subscribe to the Bible or AA's "Twelve Steps", the citizens of our nation need to pursue Bible Principles in order to turn our selves, states, and nation away from destruction, and here's how:
1. We must admit that we have pushed God aside and handed over way too much of our personal responsibility to government, as a result of which, our lives, our government, its agents, and its bureaucracies, have all become unmanageable.
2. We must return to the belief that it is necessary for us to rely on the absolute truth that is in God and His Word, upon which are built the intents, language, and purposes of our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights; only through ideal and practical adherence to all of those ideals and principles can we hope to regain our proper relationship to God and our self-respect as citizens.
3. We must personally, and deliberately, decide and subscribe ourselves, our means, and our wills to God, His Ways, and the biblical principles upon which our Nation was founded.
4. We must honestly, fearlessly, search and count the cost of our beliefs, our actions, and our daily practices, measuring ourselves against God's Word, and our Founding Documents.
5. We must admit to God, to ourselves, and to those around us the exact nature of our irresponsible and wrongful behaviors, without playing word-games or excusing evil, or trying to blame anyone else for anything for which we are responsible, that is, we must hold ourselves accountable for our every action and inaction.
6. We must be ready and willing to permit God to remove our wrongful ways of doing things, for without our willingness to change for the better there can be no worthwhile change at all. Without our willingness to allow God to remove our own vile behaviors there is no space for constructive and healing things to come into our lives. When we let go of something bad we must allow God to replace it with something good and constructive. Our own personal space and lives must change before we can expect anyone else to change, including our expectations of government.
7. We must humbly ask God to change us into what He wants us to be, and we must be willing to accept His timing and His changes, even if those changes do not coincide with our worldly fantacies of how things should be or could be, for true repentance lets go of the things of the world and embraces the things of God.
8. We must honestly list, and admit to God and ourselves, all people whom we have harmed, and we must be willing to make amends to all of them, without exception.
9. We must personally make amends to anyone and everyone whom we have wronged or harmed, in any way, except in such cases in which our attempts to make amends might cause further injury or harm to them or to others. If we are not willing to do this then how can we expect government to change for the better?
10. We must continually and fearlessly assess our own thoughts and actions, and seek God's direction and help to overcome all our faults, that we each might be responsible beacons and encouragements to everyone around us, including to our government.
11. We must seek and trust, through faith and prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ, and meditate upon the Bible, concerning God's will for our lives and for our government, as He alone can provide us the means and power by which to live up to the Standards He has set before us.
12. If we allow the Christ of God, His Spirit, His Word and His salvation to have their way with our lives, then we shall also allow His Spirit to speak through us about repentance from irresponsibility and sin, allowing us to be shameless in sharing His message with others. If we are, then, unafraid to tell the truth about God and His Ways, we shall also be unafraid to live by and speak of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, unafraid to confront evil wherever it tries to establish itself.
This world passes away into destruction, as Scripture repeatedly says. Shall we pass with it, or shall we proceed God's Way? Even some of our Founders, as John Adams (1798), were concerned, that without the sound personal spiritual foundation and practice of our citizens, our Constitution would not be enough to contain the sin nature of humanity. Should we not, also, be similarly concerned for our ourselves, our states, and our nation, that we should repent and turn from our fleshly passions back to godly principles, as God and His Christ have commanded us? As increasing numbers of our citizens put these steps into practice, increasing numbers of our citizens will be encouraged to take stock of their own lives and walk in godly light instead of walking in the darkness of this world. We cannot secure Rights by worldly force, but faith shall overcome all things.