The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part LX
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus said those words, yet the political climate today, especially among fundamental evangelical believers, is not to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s but keep it because it is “my money.” In America we have looked to the government to supply services that we deem necessary, not the church. We expect the government to educate our children, feed the hungry, provide for the homeless, care for the aging, supporting the mentally ill or the mentally or physically challenged, aide our libraries, fund our police and fire departments, snow removal, crime and prisons, etc., etc., but at no or little cost to us, the taxpayer.
Thirty-seven years ago we had a Superintendent of Schools where I work say that we could do almost anything we wanted as long as “it was at no cost to the district.” That motto has become the school district’s mantra until a financially anorexic school district faces insurmountable challenges with state budget crunches. Slush funds are dwindling, taxpayers are crying for relief, so they are asking staff to freeze pay, take cut backs, give up the power to negotiate, and bust teacher unions.
American’s don’t want to invest in anything unless it benefits themselves. That mentality births and feeds greed. We are told to invest in the stock market to become rich, to produce jobs, but the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, and jobs are getting out sourced. The same attitude that prevails educational finances has also become the mantra for government. You can do anything as long as “it is at no cost to the taxpayer,” unless it benefits the politician.
What happened to investing in your children, our youth? What happened to taking care of the elderly? What happened to aiding the poor, the misfortune, the hurting? What happened to the sacrifice for those who are defending us in our arm services? What happened to civil responsibility?
This attitude has even filtrated the Church in America where many attend, requesting physical, moral, and spiritual support from the Church at “no cost to the church ‘attendee’” if they do not tithe. But that which we Americans are crying out against, so we can live in our houses defined by the number of bathrooms, two car garages with new cars, watching our large flat screen high definition televisions while our kids play video games and talk on their expensive phones, are the very things the Church is suppose to do.
Maybe we should hear the cry of Mathew 25:41-46: Then the King will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you game me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment.” The sheep and the goats, the saints and the ain’ts, the doers and the not doers is a strong powerful parable that is relevant to the American attitude today.
Church, if America is telling the government not to do the above, and “we the people” are the American government, then the American Church must step up and tell their people to “feed the hungry, water the thirsty, take care of strangers, cloth the naked, provide health care to the sick, reform the prisons and reach out to prisoners who have served their time.” Jesus said that we will be judged by those criteria! The retooling of the American church will have to re-address how the church faces these issues and challenges. If there was ever a time for the Church to move forward in influence, it is now as the general population backs away from the very things Jesus has instructed us to do. American Church, let’s be the sheep we have been called to be, the doers! Let us lead in a time in our history where Americans are looking for leadership.