The Government god

By: Jim O'Brien 

Hi Friend,

There is a dangerous epidemic in the country that is far more threatening than Covid-19. Are you ready - it is dependence on government. Coronavirus attacks the body but government kills the soul. It is worse than bad politics - it is idolatry.

William Bennett makes a salient point in his new book, "Leading Cultural Indicators". He presents a massive amount of data showing that government solutions inevitably compound social problems. For instance, the growth of social ills literally parallels the growth in government social spending. Welfare has increased a dramatic 630 percent since 1960, but long-term static dependency has increased accordingly.

Static dependency, simply stated, is people getting on the government dole and never leaving. What should be a temporary stop gap to move people from welfare to self-sufficiency has been a catastrophic failure. We are witnessing the utter disgrace of five-generation family welfare recipients.

Government has created a "dependent class" that drains the national character as much as the national treasury. It has dumped a staggering tax burden on working citizens leading to the disintegration of families.

The divorce rate has more than doubled since 1960. There is a smaller percentage of households with married couples in the United States today than there has been for over two-hundred years. One-third of all births in the U.S. are from households headed by single parents or are outside of marriage. In the African-American population over seventy percent of births are illegitimate. We have murdered over sixty million babies before birth and some advocate post-birth abortions.

It's a slippery slope for leaders to begin doing things for citizens that citizens should do for themselves. It leads to the mistaken belief that "government" can take care of every need. However well-intentioned the men in charge, they are fools to ever entertain such ideas. Not only is it a mirage, it is idolatry.

I was once a member of a church that taught submission to church government as a major doctrinal tenet. The church collapsed under the weight of corruption and bureaucracy. For those of us who put our faith in "government" it was a great disappointment. Yet it was an invaluable lesson on the evil consequence of giving power to men without accountability.

C.S. Lewis warned that people don't make idols out of bad things. We make idols out of nations, families and churches.

Yes, churches! And that may be the core of the problem. The Apostle Paul wrote, "My dear friends, you have always obeyed God. You obeyed while I was with you. And you have obeyed even more while I am not with you. So continue to work out your own salvation. Do it with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12 NIV).

Notice the admonition to "work out your own salvation." Even in the matter of salvation - in fact, especially in the matter of salvation - don't put your trust in government. It will inevitably fail because men are fallible. Trust God. That was Paul's confidence, yet he acknowledges that it isn't easy. Some "fear and trembling" may be involved.

The political Church was never intended to save man. An apt metaphor may be that of giving a man a fish to provide a meal versus teaching him to fish so he can eat for a lifetime. A man can take care of himself if he knows how. The job of the Church is to teach men about God so they can work out their own salvation.

A case in point is Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jacob was taking his family back to his homeland when he realized the need to be alone before encountering his brother Esau. Jacob withdrew to a private area where he met a man that the Bible reveals to be God.

The most amazing thing happened next. Jacob "wrestled" with God (Genesis 32:24-28). It was a match that lasted until the break of day.

No one to help. No army, government or even a friend. He was left alone to work it out. It seems God wanted to know whether he would persevere. This was the event where God gave him the name "Overcomer with God." He became the father of one of the greatest civilizations that has ever existed.

I suspect the time is approaching when many people in our country will feel a sense of betrayal because the government cannot deliver on what it has promised. Yet those who have "wrestled with God" as Jacob did are the ones who will overcome.

As Paul wrote to the Congregation at Ephesus, "...let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati

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