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Good shepherds reflect God's will by transforming society

Guest Opinion
Tom Getman

As I suggested last week, there is a bright side dawning in this dehumanizing time. There is increasing sense in our land, spurred by the political crisis, about what defines and characterizes honorable public service, a free compassionate society and faithful witness to the Good Shepherd. 
Shepherds, in the spirit of Jesus, take risks for the lost, lonely, endangered lambs … even those who may not want to be corralled when ill or wounded and are tempted to run away or turn up the volume of derision. 
Rock County sheep farmer Sue Stueven says her lambs seek to escape when she has medicine for them that stings or bandages that hobble. Some of us might have the same reaction when shepherds come for us.
But an inspiring, more true and helpful aspirational definition of “politics” is emerging in the original Greek sense politikos. The real dictionary understanding means “action consistent with good policy proceeding from prudent motives.” Sounds like “God’s Politics” in my view. 
That is a moral government revealed by faithful people by caring need meeting choices. This is the way to counter the excesses of authoritarian action from bad shepherds or Pharisees. (Again as in the Luke 15 parable).
It also means communal civil transformation at our hands. “Loving each other as I have loved you”… as we care for the widow and orphan, search out the lost, heal the physically and politically blind and particularly attend to the special-needs children, to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, and organize communities for good.  
Social justice is love in the streets and fields. Transformative action-politics is passion at the crunch points. A just civil policy comes from prudent citizen engagement and trusting in God’s politics.  
We are accountable to a higher authority. We are not to be deceived by those who lure with power, wealth, access and platform.
The shepherd call is for us to be agents for justice for the oppressed. We are being directed by last week’s  “Godfrey” story, to trust our ethics, morality and sacrificial caring for the endangered lambs all around us. Good shepherds are indeed the family of the third kind.
By engaging with empathy and simple kindness practiced by our forebears and doing it without suspicion, anger, arrogance, or pride during this era, the impact of the Good Shepherd is pivotal … especially when lost sheep are being demonized rather than loved. 
Senator John McCain’s widow, Cindy, maybe said it best: “I am asking all Americans to take a pledge of unity by committing to causes larger than ourselves and joining together across the aisle, or whatever divides, to make the world a better place, to elevate this spirit of civility. No act is to small to make a difference.”
I sincerely believe there is a bright dawn during this dark time with a profound historical turning point. There are faithful shepherds who are in the streets and fields, who are seeing this mobilizing as a life-defining opportunity. All across our nation people of faith are standing against the spirit of negativity and false nationalism. Biblical justice and shepherding is occurring. 
How then can we each help fill the gaps with caring, one relationship at a time, even for the purveyors of hate … to lift them and us out of the craggy wilderness?
I suggest embracing three lessons that emerge from the Parable of the Good Shepherd:
1. Do exuberant acts of charity to those near to you, even if at some risk to yourself;
2. Engage with faithful advocacy for more just government structures and leaders from the bottom up, and; 
3. Organize in the larger community for non-partisan civil society systems to meet the greater challenges that government cannot manage when what we face is structural.
Pick the shepherding project individually and in community that you can accomplish (the house you can move, the widow you can support, the refugee family you can aid, the conflict you can mediate) and join the movement to make Americans what we are called to be.   
(Adapted from Getman’s Sept. 15 sermon at First Presbyterian Church, Luverne. … Continued from last week.)

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