GOVERNMENT CAN DO CERTAIN THINGS,
BUT IT CANNOT MAKE US BETTER PEOPLE

Published in the Rocky Mountain News, February 28, 1999.

In his column of February 14, George Will writes of a “silliness that respects no borders.” The column was sparked by the Church of England’s likening Jesus to the late Latin American Communist Che Guevara. It properly criticizes those who extract political agendas from the Bible as “(reducing) religion to social work.”

Christians can be just as politically correct as secular folk. There is a common trend among today’s Christians to brand as un-Christian those who do not conform to their political agenda. For decades, it has been fashionable in some circles to portray Jesus as being at the vanguard of the proletariat. In the last 20 years, the Right has gotten into the act, having us think that Jesus would rejoice in the jailing of anyone whose idea of a good time does not meet with His approval. Both depictions are off-base, as Jesus had no political agenda -- left-wing or right-wing.

Christians are as eager as anyone else to ask their government to “do something” to solve just about any problem imaginable. When we (yes, I am a Christian) do this, we invoke Jesus’ Name in doing something Jesus never did: initiating force. Non-compliance with the government means fines, jail, or death. Jesus never put a gun at anyone’s head and said, “Follow Me.”

Uncle Sam can tax us into the pavement to support a welfare system, but he cannot make us love our neighbors. Local governments can close down strip joints and adult bookstores, but they cannot suppress our appetites. Government can do certain things, but it cannot make us better people. God puts the onus on the church to enhance our spiritual health, and on Christians to live their daily lives as a positive testimony to their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The power of our personal examples is far greater than that of the state.

Christians should vote, and those who are so called should be active in politics. But we are gravely mistaken if we believe government can perform those duties which God places on His church. God calls Christians, not governments, to be light in a world of darkness and salt in a world of decay. When enough Christians start living according to this principle, they will be pleasantly surprised as America starts moving in the direction they want it to move.


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