Obama, Jesus, and the Law of Proportionality

One of the most important—but often overlooked—principles in the Bible is the Law of Proportionality. But before I share what the Bible says about this, let me give you an illustration from today’s news.

Although I’ve recently tried very hard to stay away from “political” issues in my blogs, I can’t resist addressing a very strange situation in our country in recent weeks. And even if you don’t care much about politics or world events, the principle I’m going to share will have profound implications for your personal life as well.

Here’s the situation…

This week President Obama announced executive action to limit people’s possession of guns. This apparently was a very emotional issue for him, even bringing tears to his eyes.

I frankly haven’t studied the details of his proposals, and it’s really not my intention to weigh in on the gun control debate one way or another. I think most Americans are willing to allow law-abiding citizens to own guns, but we want to keep them away from criminals and crazy people. Hopefully, everyone can agree on those objectives. And the President should be able to find some common ground with Congress without having to resort to executive orders that are probably beyond his constitutional authority.

Here’s where the Law of Proportionality comes in…

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Obama is totally correct on his position regarding guns. (This is certainly debatable though, when most observers conclude that NONE of the tragic shootings the past few years would have been prevented by the new regulations he announced).

But things start getting really strange when you consider the backdrop provided by other events in the news. Around the same time as the President was passionately addressing the problem of guns, the North Koreans were testing a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Iran recently launched a missile that came within a mile of a U.S. aircraft carrier. And as we all know, the Middle East is exploding, and ISIS is causing havoc in ever-expanding circles of influence. Does anyone really think Paris will be the final episode of terrorism on the world stage?

And what about the thousands of Christians who’ve been beheaded by ISIS? Where are the tears and outreach over that?

So, while we all hate gun violence, the Law of Proportionality says we need to do risk assessments and prioritize our time and resources. We must address “first things first” and focus on the BIG threats before worrying so much about the SMALL ones.

This is pretty much a no-brainer: Gun violence normally kills no more than a few people at a time, while nuclear bombs can kill millions and destroy entire cities. And a crazy person with a gun or rifle cannot do even a fraction of the damage ISIS can do.

Here’s what the Bible says…

The Scriptures describe the Law of Proportionality in various passages. For example, Proverbs 11:1 says, A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” We’ve all had times when our priorities got out of balance, of course, but this is a serious problem when it happens on a national or international level.

Likewise, Jesus scoffed at people who strained a gnat out of their soup but “swallowed a camel” (Matthew 23:24). If we apply this to today, even if we concede that President Obama may be correct in straining out the “gnat” (trying to remove guns from the wrong hands), he seems to be overlooking the “camel”—much more dangerous threats.

One final passage should be a challenge to all of us, where Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for their violation of the Law of Proportionality (Matthew 23:23). These self-righteous people were so diligent in tithing that they took pains to offer even the tiniest of herbs, but they “neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.”

Let that statement sink in for a minute. If you look at your daily schedule or how you spend your money, you probably could make a case that you’re putting your resources to “good” use. But what about the “weightier matters”? Can you really say that your priorities are the same as God’s priorities? Even if you are doing the “right” things, are they being done in proportion to their true importance?

These questions are hard for me, because God is also encouraging me to learn how to have FUN from time to time. But I don’t want my life to be a game of Trivial Pursuits. I want it to count, to matter, to make an impact.

It’s not easy to get the proportions right. From time to time, we need to reassess our priorities and readjust our balance. It’s all too easy to criticize Obama for getting things out of proportion, when we need to examine our own priorities as well.