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God and government

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hosea 14:3, 9
We will never again say "Our gods" to what our own hands have made, for in You the fatherless find compassion.

Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.

A recent caller to our local talk-show "Penny for Your Thoughts" was talking about potholes, created as always in the winter by heavy snow and heaving pavement. Of course we could ask local government to repair them quickly, even spend extra money doing it. But in doing so we would become more dependent on the government than we are already. He wanted us to at least be aware of the trade-off involved.

In the 1930's the Social Security Administration took over many responsibilities for aging citizens. The welfare system has done the same with indigent citizens. It's certainly not news that the government does much of what churches and families did in past years. John Wimber writes about Basil of Caesarea (330-379 A.D.), who "...established orphanages, schools, poorhouses, and hotels for poor travelers...he is best known for developing the first fully staffed hospitals." In The Way In Is the Way On, he writes about Christians throughout history who took on these tasks.

This is what came to my mind when I read, "We will never again say 'Our gods' to what our own hands have made, for in You the fatherless find compassion." Given the choice, most of us would choose to be cared for by God's servants rather than DCFS or SSA or VA or some other faceless acronymic agency. Why? Because in God the fatherless find compassion.

We are very dependent on the government, every one of us. Perhaps that will not always be true. And even now, it's important to make the distinction every day between our Source and what our own hands have made, between God's compassion and our own well-meaning but inevitably inadequate substitutes.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread ...

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