Part Two of Yesterday’s Post: My Musings
Our friends south of the border have elected their President now so folks can take a deep breath and get back to everyday life. I suppose some voters will be elated over the results while others are very disappointed; I even hear a bit of that up here. Everyone seems to have an opinion regardless of how much or how little we actually know about the real issues. We all hope our leaders will stand for truth and justice, but it seems unfair to expect one man to fix all the problems, economic and social, no matter how wise or wonderful he’d be.
Reading comments from various American bloggers who profess Christianity, I’ve picked up a certain attitude that surely must cause them frustrations – and we Canadians may well have some of this, too. It feels like many North American Christians still have a WCTU or Prohibition mind-set: “We are a Christian nation, therefore our government needs to enact laws to make people behave. I.e., forbid same-sex marriage; repeal abortion; ban this or that.”
This didn’t work in the 1920s and probably never will, but some folks keep hoping.
It seems to me that Christians in democratic countries can get so wrapped up in getting the right people elected and choosing a government that will straighten things out. The goal seems to be to make us politically Christian – but at the same time maintaining the separation of church and state. How is this possible?
An unbeliever looking on would probably comment that Christians are such a crazy mixture; they can’t even agree among themselves what they want. And those who are serious about their faith are such a minority anymore, but they still want to run the show.
We can get so occupied with fixing the world that we neglect the very tool we have in our hands – the only tool – that can change people’s lives and make folks want to be good: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel started as a grassroots movement in a pagan empire; it was like a leaven that spread through the empire and lifted the burdens from anyone who took it to heart. It made such a dramatic difference in people’s lives that believers “turned the world upside down.”
The apostles worked with individuals; they never got involved in secular politics or tried to change society from the top down. There was no way they could. Neither did they need for the Emperor to take a stand for truth or morality in order for the Gospel to be effective. Perhaps we in North America are somewhat misled by the idea that democracy is the “Christian” way, then frustrated when it doesn’t make people godly?
I’m wondering: if the effort expended on political speeches were rather aimed at reaching out to individuals with the Gospel, wouldn’t it bear more fruit? Better to share the life-changing power of Christ with our next-door neighbors than to bang our heads in frustration trying to get the right laws enacted.
(Let’s forget about glamorizing the good old days, too. Read Charles Dickens if you think the world was a better place before “all these liberal laws” came into being. The thing that made a big improvement in British society was the preaching of the Gospel by men like the Wesley brothers and William Booth.)
An elderly friend told me one time that Nellie McClung, a Women’s Christian Temperance Union leader and an ardent push behind getting the vote for Canadian women, said in the 50’s not long before she died:
“We thought when we got the vote for women, we’d outlaw liquor. But we never thought we’d see the day when women would take to drinking.”
(There were a lot of “days” Nellie never lived to see. Christian women of her day were dead-set against war; today women are demanding the right to front-line combat service.)
They “put up a fence round the edge of the cliff” but found that drinkers just found new ways to climb over and take the plunge. Organized crime benefited greatly from the naivety of the WCTU. Illegal bars or “speakeasies” sprang up everywhere in the “dry” states as people flouted the prohibition laws. The fence couldn’t hold a lot of people in because society as a whole was not Christian.
The issues have changed, but aren’t we still holding up the same solutions? For example, make abortion illegal. Now, abortion is wrong, but so is harassment. Wouldn’t it be better to reach out in love than to ban? True, there are women who use abortion as a lazy form of birth control, but who is going to make them take responsibility for their offspring? What is going to make us all good mothers other than the selfishness-crucifying power of the Gospel?
Law and order are desirable, but history has proved that using the law to make people good is futile. As far as I can see, the Gospel has proven to be the only effective means of change in people’s lives – and thus in society. Change has to start from the bottom up, not from the top down.
“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me pure within?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”