PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — God Or Mammon?

To whom or what are you loyal?

That really is the core question we are grappling with as a nation. Where do your core loyalties lie? Are you more concerned with power or loyalty to a person or are you loyal to a higher ideal?

As a person of faith, I know my first loyalty is always to God, and that my core values help me discern how to live out that loyalty to God in response to others. The greatest temptation we face in life is to compromise our values by forgetting what drives our loyalty. Once we compromise our values, we lose who we truly are.

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness to betray his basic values, which focused on his dependence on God, his willingness to be a true servant leader, not to be one who used power to lord over others, and his desire to trust and not test God.

Satan tempted him to turn stones into bread, to command power and to tempt God by throwing himself off the highest point in the temple.

But rather than betray his values, he was true to who he was, his convictions and his beliefs. In doing that, Jesus honored God and remained faithful, allowing him to fulfill his mission. He knew his loyalty was to God.

Lately, as a nation, we have been faced with an incredible temptation and sadly, far too many are responding to that temptation by casting their lot with power and control, being loyal to a man and not their morals.

The thing that has disturbed me the most these past few years has been seeing people in what used to be known as “the Grand Old Party” throw aside so many of their core beliefs that it has now become the Party of Trump. The refusal to stand up for what is clearly wrong — be it racism, kids in cages or the incessant lying, has rendered what used to be a party driven by a set of conservative ideals into a party driven only by a desire for absolute power, which is corrupting absolutely.

Boldly claiming that it is OK to accept intelligence from a foreign power to defeat your political enemy at home makes it clear that your loyalty is not to the values of the United States but rather to maintaining your own power. Those are the words of a megalomaniac and an autocrat, not someone sworn to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.

We have reached a point in our nation where there is no room for equivocation. With every statement like the ones Trump made to George Stephanopoulos that it is OK to accept “dirt” from foreign countries and that his FBI director is wrong to condemn it, because Trump gets to make his own rules, it is crystal clear that Donald Trump is loyal only to himself and his pursuit of power

He has sold out the Constitution for his own set of rules. His highest loyalty is not to his nation but himself.

Time and again, once decent people, with whom I may not have agreed politically, but who lived by a set of core values, are looking the other way in the face of this clear and present danger to the very soul of our democracy.

Anyone who continues to support that kind of brazen behavior, refusing to repudiate it and act on it, is enabling him and giving in to the temptation to maintain power at all costs.

There comes a time for all good people to come to the aid of not their party, but their country. Anyone who refuses to speak out and condemn this kind of behavior is not a patriot, no matter how much they wrap themselves in the flag.

It says in Proverbs 21:21, “Whoever pursues righteousness and loyalty, finds life and honor.”

I am praying fervently for those who are truly loyal to a set of higher ideals to cast aside the man in pursuit of righteousness and honor.

Right now, that seems to be the only hope we have to find a way to bridge the divide in our country and once again be united by our shared values to which we can all be loyal.

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