The Welfare of the People
Today’s scripture is from the Prophet Jeremiah. His words come as God’s judgment upon both Israel and Judah for their lack of faithfulness. They are compared to two sisters who both commit adultery in their relationship with God. Jeremiah says, “Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.” As a nation Israel failed to be faithful to her covenant with God.
The Missouri state motto is “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.” When we are at our best we live out this motto adopted in 1822. In a real sense Missouri’s motto is a “covenant” between our government and the citizens of our state. As people of faith we believe we have failed many times to consider “the welfare of the people” as we make decisions in our legislature.
We do not believe it right to give tax credits to corporations and fail to provide the opportunity for citizens to have basic human needs. As people of faith we cannot remain silent when the poor are oppressed so the rich might become richer. Our regressive tax code means the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes than do the wealthy. Our health care system does not provide access to quality and affordable health care to all our citizens. Our failure to address the abuses of the payday loan industry makes the working poor victims and keeps them locked in a cycle of poverty.
It is time for our state government to take seriously our motto and genuinely make “the welfare of the people” our priority. We need to consider all “our people” and not just the wealthy or privileged. We call upon our legislators to act with justice and faithfulness in their decisions. Jeremiah says if Israel will return, then God will “give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” We call upon the “shepherds” of our state to rule with knowledge, understanding, and be faithful to the covenant with have with our citizens and our God.
Rev Jim Hill, Church Administrator, First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Board President, Missouri Faith Voices