I have long thought about words that we have nearly stopped using in the modern world in which we live. “Duty” is one of those words.
I learned about duty as a little boy. My father taught me (mostly by example) that it was my duty to respect my elders, to care for the poor, to protect the vulnerable. It was my duty to honor my mother and to protect my younger sister. It was my duty to be kind to others.
When I was 11 years old I first learned the Boy Scout’s Oath: “On my honor I will do my duty, to God and my Country….” It helped set a course for my life.
Before I was confirmed as a Christian at 12, I memorized “my Christian Duty: To follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.”
When I was 17 years old I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and entered a community defined by its intention to live the sacred (to them) code of “duty, honor, country.”
Once I became a serious follower of Christ Jesus as an adult, having been graciously converted, I began to grapple with my duty as a citizen now that Jesus was truly my Lord. I began to learn to distinguish how to give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s. I found it was not easy.
These thoughts are, of course, brought to mind by the current election cycle in my own country. This election is the most distressing of my life. As a global traveler, I am saddened by the way my country is being seen on the world stage. This election has caused me not a little heartache. I have regularly been disgusted.
But I know my duty is to vote. I must cast a ballot if my duty as a citizen is to be done. I cannot stand off. And I must pray for my country and its leaders if my Christian duty is to be done. I must humble myself and pray that God will have mercy on us and heal our land. That he will not cast us off, even though we may deserve it.
I am persuaded that this country has fallen this far because true Christian people have not done their duty: to God and to their Country. We who say we love the Lord Jesus above all things have allowed too many of those who do not believe these things to ascend to the halls of power. Too many of us have been neglectful of our civic duties, and the “field” of our common social life has been sown with tares. Suddenly, we realize “an enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28).
And I believe I am culpable.
— Jon Shuler
25 October 2016