Have you ever heard, or said, these words?
“Of course we should be taking care of the poor. But that’s the church’s job, not the government’s. And besides, he government is horribly inefficient.”
I’ve heard them. I’ve said them.
And of course that’s true.
But guess why our (their, any) government is trying to take over the specific duty of caring for the poor? Because the church is failing.
If every christian family, if every church, in the entire United States of America, did everything it possibly could to help the poor in its midst, at its doors, maybe the government wouldn’t need to have such massive food stamps programs or pass legislation like the Affordable Care Act.
Why do we spend so much energy saying “it’s the church’s job!” instead of just doing our jobs?
For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason (Romans 13:4).
The government will wield the sword, make no mistake. It’s easy to apply that verse to matters of capital punishment. But, maybe, in this time and day and place, just maybe the sword is for our wallets and our overstuffed bellies.
If I’m tired of my neighbor taking “my hard earned tax dollars” for food stamps to stay alive, maybe it’s time to forego my daily Starbucks trip and and start buying them lunch so they don’t need the tax dollars quite so much.
I’m going to be brutally honest. I applaud efforts at giving I see in my community and family, but I don’t exempt anyone from this: we suck at giving. We really, really suck at giving.
Our megapastors buy mega-houses and drive mega-cars.
We fritter away thousands of dollars sending our indecisive freshmen kids to expensive, private Christian colleges when they don’t even know what they want to do yet, and who are perfectly capable of taking Bio 101, Comp 101, and College Algebra at the local community college while they figure it out.
We pay hundreds of thousands of dollars so doctors can do fancy things to our eggs and sperm, because we simply can’t bear the thought of missing out on the glorious pregnancy experience, and holding a baby that looks like me is more important than taking in a foster kid, adopting an older child, or starting a trust fund for a niece or nephew to get an education or, I don’t know….. have food for the rest of forever.
I have always, ever since I can remember, felt this ache in my heart about money. I am blessed and rich and privileged, even if it doesn’t feel like it most of the time. And in this middle-class American suburban culture (the only culture I’ve ever known) – we’re just obsessed with spending money on things we don’t need.
So guess what? Politicians are always going to fight for bills we think are crazy. The government is going to govern too much, and we’re going to be grumpy about it all. That’s a fact. I don’t like it any more than you do.
But please, please, the next time we fidget and find ourselves wanting to say, “it’s the church’s job…”
-do it. Do that job. You’re the church. You’re holding Christ’s emblem. If you want the government to stop doing the church’s job, then the church better get it done right.