Jesus wept. They say it is the shortest verse in the Bible. Anyone who has memorized Bible verses knows it and knows what it is about – the death of Lazarus.
But there is another time Jesus wept: when he entered Jerusalem on the Sunday before he died on the cross. His followers were shouting with joy – but he was crying!
They said he was the King that comes in the name of the Lord. They thought he would soon overthrow the Roman oppressors.
They misunderstood him – because their hatred for Rome blinded them, blinding them to the things that make for peace. He saw that violence would beget violence, round and round till Rome destroyed Jerusalem. So Jesus wept.
They were confusing God and government.
Al Qaeda does that too. We see it clearly when they kill people in the name of God.
Yet we Americans cannot see how what we are doing is the same as Al Qaeda but under a different colour flag, calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem!
Americans believe God approved of the rape and robbery of a continent, of African slavery, of American apartheid, of giving rich men tax breaks while millions live in poverty. We believe we have a right to the oil in other countries. We believe we have the right to send our military anywhere, anytime to do anything.
As if our government were God.
Yet it is unlike God:
- The government lies:
- It lied when it said all men are created equal – but gave the vote only to white men.
- It lied about the Gulf of Tonkin.
- It lied about the Tuskegee experiment.
- It lied about Iran-Contra.
- It lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
- The government changes:
- It once allowed people to become property.
- It once said all people of African descent had no rights which whites were bound to respect.
- It once stopped blacks from voting.
- It once made blacks sit, eat and be buried apart from whites.
- The government fails:
- It failed to treat citizens of Indian descent fairly, putting them on reservations.
- It failed to treat citizens of Japanese descent fairly, putting them in prison camps.
- And it failed to treat citizens of African descent fairly:
- She put them in chains.
- She put them in slave quarters.
- She put them in cotton fields
- She put them in bad schools.
- She put them in bad housing.
- She put them in scientific experiments.
- She put them beyond the equal protection of the law.
- She gives them drugs, builds bigger prisons and passes a three-strike law
- And then she expects them to sing “God bless America”.
No, not “God bless America” but:
- God damn America for killing innocent people, as the Bible says.
- God damn America for treating her citizens as less than human.
- God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme!
God never lies.
God never changes.
God never fails.
Source: Based on “Confusing God and Government”, a sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright given on April 13th 2003 in the wake of the Iraq War, the Sunday after Baghdad fell. The sermon in turn is based on Luke 19:37-44.