Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Government Cannot Do

All too often it seems we Christians aren't willing to get our own hands dirty. It's much easier to vote for a politician who says he will feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick. So, many of us simply check a box on election day and go home feeling as if we've actually accomplished something.

But there are some things governments just cannot do. My friend, Dr. Dave Black, who has spent a great deal of time ministering in Ethiopia, writes:
    There is a profound tendency to want to help these people on the purely societal level in much the same way that a U.S. president is expected to accommodate the whims of 350 million Americans who demand affordable health care, job security, secure bank accounts, and optimal retirement plans. The missionary goes to Ethiopia with a sincere commitment to build Christ's kingdom, but it is easy to read into Jesus' words our own agenda: "My kingdom is not of this world, so act as though you can achieve peace, justice, equality, liberty, and a prosperous planet without Me or My Gospel."

    That's certainly not what Jesus meant, but that’s how we act so often. If I am critical of Mr. Obama's overly-optimistic view of government, it is not because I'm attacking him. Most Americans have bought into the lie that political, societal, and economic conditions can be solved by political instruments.

    But as I point one finger elsewhere, I'm pointing three at myself. For how often do I act as if Jesus said, "Go, sell some of what you have"? Didn't He say “all of what you have"? Didn't He tell me to give to the poor? Didn't He tell me to sacrifice so that others might live?

    That's why the Gospel is so offensive; that's why it's so intolerable. It expects us to act in a completely irrational way: Trust God! Put not your confidence in anything human! Renounce everything, and then you will possess everything! "We have nothing, although we possess everything," wrote Paul, and he meant it (2 Cor. 6:10). "We're beggars, although we make others rich." "We're dying but -- as you can see -- we go on living."...

    ... The bottom line of the bottom line: I do not look to the government. It is only when the church is the church and when she travails in labor pains that she brings forth sons and daughters who have the power to change society from the inside out.

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