Today is the day that the 2012 election season kicks into high gear with the Iowa Caucus. It brought to mind a conversation I had with a frustrated friend not too long ago who boldly declared “government is the problem, I wish it’d stay out of the way.”
Tags: blame | brokenness | false self | identity
At the time, I was intrigued by the comment, because a couple weeks before at a men’s group for which I provide coaching, someone ended a conversation with me by saying “corporations are ruining this country.”
When complaining about these things, everyone seems to pick a different poison. Government, corporations, or…
“It’s the banks that have created this mess.”
“The media is out to get us, they are slanted too far (choose one: left/right).“
“The church has become too institutional and doesn’t really help anyone.“
Yet, each of these things, without one common denominator, has absolutely no power in an of themselves. They are inanimate systems. Nothing more.
What they have in common is people. Broken, identity affirming people. In every one.
All a bank does is take people’s deposits (promising interest), and lend that money to other people (charging interest). I realize this is a touch oversimplified, but the point is that it’s all people. At every step: depositing, processing, lending, and borrowing. Now, because of their brokenness, these people suffer from greed, deceit, and entitlement. That is the source of the problem.
Are corporations the problem? Corporations make things and provide services that we want. Again, at every step, it’s people. People create, market, produce, and purchase the good or service. Broken people trying to create their own significance. So purchase things turns into consumerism. Greed treats people as a labor resource to use up so products can be made for cheap. Entitlement wants the products cheap. People who create the marketing convince us of our lack to we’ll want what they are selling.
It’s all people. Displaying their brokenness. And their need for wholeness, which they are trying to create.
So, back to my friend’s declaration “government is the problem, I wish it’d get out of the way.” He forgets, God institutes governments. They work for Him. It is something good He has given us to give us order and protection. But just like the other examples, government is people. People seeking affirmation of their values. (In our system) People voting to get what they want. People feeling entitled to security. People hoarding power in order to feel important.
While I love and feel blessed by our system of government, my belief is that if people lived the way God designed us to, if this world were not broken, any system would work as well as another (that is a catch-22, if this world was not broken, we would be content with God as king and would have no need for government, but you catch my drift, right?).
So as this contentious election season unfolds, let us in Christ try this on for size: don’tvillainize (that so rhymes!). Liberal government or conservative government, our priority is to follow Christ. That never changes.
Government is not our hope. Jesus returning to rescue us is our hope.
Government changing culture to suit us is not our message. Jesus’ love and sacrifice is our message.
The Church acting in love. Our identity secure in Christ. Each of us breaking free of the idols of greed, consumerism, pride, et. al. THEN there would be fewer problems.