The very problem now more than ever is self-interest. We no longer care what kind of society we pass on to our children as much as we are consumed by slight or offense to us. We have all become victims of one sort or another and we seem to relish the role of the maligned who deserve some sort of compensation. How do our politicians govern a nation of victims? The easiest way has been to become victims themselves. It is also the worst way. By demonizing the opposition and making politics so personal, there is little possibility of cooperation or compromise. Without clear ideology or philosophy, the parties are left to invent themselves. Unlike the parties in other democracies, the parties do not even get to elect their own leaders. Either they are elected by the people at large (and we know how that worked for Republicans for whom President Trump was not their president), or they are elected because they have the goods on enough people to guarantee the outcome. Sometimes the choice of the elected for their leader is deprived of the job because the locals were neither consulted nor did they consent (recall Tom Daschle of SD).
I wish this were only true of politics but it seems also true of religion as well. The public debacles of Rome only confirm what some have already to observed: The Church has long since advanced to an ungovernable stage. The Evangelical Church in America also seems incapable of reining it the extreme voices in its fellowship and a once hierarchical church body has now become a federation of semi-autonomous synods. Missouri has its own problems in this regard. Could it be that church bodies are just as ungovernable as the societies in which they live? Doctrine has become mere suggestion in many church bodies and tradition a dare to break with celebrity status for those who do. Worship has become the arena of that which is judged meaningful or relevant or enjoyable and God an afterthought. Piety may have more to what is trending in social media than the prayerful orders and practices of the past. It is not that governing is the end goal of any church structure but without a means to hold accountable, a confession becomes mere suggestion. Perhaps that is all Christians have a stomach for anymore -- the suggestion of what might be believed, confessed, and taught. If that is the case, the cause is even more dire than any of us desire to think.
The state depends on more to unite than to divide. The same is true of the Church. But in the Church is not a simple matter of what we feel, think, or desire but what God says. The focus is not upon us but upon Him. Governance is not all that popular today. Check out the statistics of those church members who attend congregational meetings or even read publications the tell about the business side of the church. We may never get back to the glory days when everything from the PTA to civic organizations to church meetings were well attended by informed people. But the future of our nation and the welfare of the churches depend upon people being driven by something more noble than self-interest.
Whether in government or in the Church, it seems it boils down to an attitude of submission. Submission is not being a wimp, but from a place of knowledge one grants control to another. Current government wants to force submission on us, and current Church government plays at being laissez-faire. Either side of that coin will ensure rebellion of some sort or other. What is needed is not to be either slavish (cowed) or arrogant (crowing), but in knowledge and strength to have the willingness to trust another’s will to guide us.
Politically, things need to change on the controllers’ side; spiritually things need to change on the controlled’s’ side, it would seem.
May God grant grace to both sides, who in their submission must first be submitted Christ.
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