It is true enough that the church is worldly. Like the world’s younger brother we follow a few steps behind the spirit of the age, mimicking its swagger. That truth, however, ought not cause us to miss another truth: the world follows the church.
Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that believers are salt and light, that we act as a preservative to a world swirling in a maelstrom of moral entropy. How easy it is to diminish this truth, to reduce it down to “Be nice, so your neighbor will be nice.”
The truth is, however, not only that the broader world becomes a less moral place when we behave in less moral ways, but that the connection runs deeper still. When we fail at X, odds are the world will fail at X, spectacularly. And in ways we won’t like.
When the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare the blogosphere devoted a fair percentage of its infinite space to reading the tea leaves. Why did it happen? What did Roberts mean? Did he switch sides at the last second? What will it mean for the election? Most Christians are rightly up in arms over the decision. Most understand not just the economic but the moral evil of the decision. What we miss, I fear, is that it is our fault.
The blame trail leads back to the church, not, I believe, because we didn’t show more support for the Republican in the previous presidential election. We are at fault not because we didn’t pressure this Senator or that when the voting took place. The problem is much more organic. The world has given us socialized medicine because the church is socialistic.
Of course we want our socialism in small doses, just like campers like tent-encroaching camels in small doses. We have bought into the notion that it is fitting for the state to tax us all, to finance health care for the aged. We have bought into the notion that it is appropriate for governments to tax us all, to finance education not just for them, but for eighty percent of our own children.
We have bought into the notion that the state should tax us all and guarantee our mortgages, underwrite our college loans, supplement our retirements. The country is embracing socialism because the church has embraced socialism. We have lost our savor, and are baffled at the stench all around us. We tear our clothes, tossing ashes into the sky, angry at the government for merely doing more of what we have asked it to do.
When we determine to plunder our neighbors by availing ourselves of largesse, have we not affirmed to the watching world that God is in favor of plunder? When we accept government schools, government pills, government this and government that, then Obamacare is merely bad policy, not a wicked power grab. We show the world the path, and are shocked when they race ahead of us.
I hope and pray we will never actually see Obamacare become a reality. I pray still more that Christians would cease asking Caesar to give us our daily bread. I pray still more that the church would honor the eighth commandment.
I pray still more that we would recognize and repudiate socialism whenever and from whichever party it rears its ugly head. I pray the servants of the King will one day come to love the liberty He came to preach. I pray we would be free men.