Before the election and after we heard plenty about "big government" and "socialism". These are things that concern a good number of people, me included. For many who worry about these things, it's their own fault we are even talking about it. I am going to take a moment to tell you why I think that is so. I will be as kind as possible, but some who read this will be angry.
I was out and about with my Dad today. We went to Johnson City to check out all the cool toys at the music store up there. I drooled a little, wished a little, and the end, walked out with nothing. On the way back we passed one of the larger churches in our area. There was some major construction going on. It looked like a big project with lots of money spent. It wasn't out of place at all though. All the big churches in our area, and even some smaller ones, have done the same thing. They have spent millions to build huge buildings and "family life centers" for their members, I mean communities. ;)
When he pointed it out, I was immediately angry. Which is my normal response in these situations. I was thinking of all the poor, disadvantaged, and forgotten people in our area that could be helped with the millions of dollars that pour into these huge monuments. Monuments to how great we are and how hot our music, programs, and small groups are. OK, that wasn't very kind, sorry. But in many cases, it's all too true.
So what does this have to do with evangelicals, big government, and socialism? Well, let me tell you.
One of the biggest and loudest groups (and their leaders) heading the charge against all things big government are, you guessed it, white, conservative, evangelicals. The same people pouring millions into brick and mortar while the communities they serve (or are suppose to) are left with needs. In all fairness, many do some good things for their communities. However, with all the money they spend on other things, while many still have needs, opportunities are being missed on a large scale. Enter big government.
We have failed in our mission. We have forgotten the sermon on the mount and put our treasure into things that make us comfortable. While others toil in need, we have nice comfy buildings with all the amenities. We have fortresses of solitude we can retreat to and get away from the world. We send our youth groups out to food banks and we take mission trips every summer to make ourselves feel better about how much we have while others do not. But in the end, we stop short of REALLY doing something to help with the problems in our world.
In doing this, we have given control to the government with our inaction and wasteful spending. We emboldened those in the government who crave power and they have scooped up our fumble and are running with it. Nothing helps a power grab more than giving people what they need or think they need. While we are busy with our basketball leagues in gymnasiums some schools wish they had while the government does our job with programs funded by taxpayer dollars.
Imagine if all these huge churches took the millions they spend on "stuff" and put it back into our communities. Would healthcare be an issue? Housing? Hunger? Things wouldn't be perfect, but they'd be much better. And the government wouldn't have to pick up our slack. If the taxes you pay functionally serve as a piece of your tithes and offerings, then just be quiet. You are telling us you want the government to do your job. You are telling us you are fine with a welfare state.
In 2005 Americans gave nearly $100 Billion dollars to religious organizations. Most of that would be given by Christians, and a large chunk of that would be from evangelicals. Imagine if we spent less on buildings and staffs and instead poured the money back into our communities the way the first century church did. If we choose to keep doing what we are doing, then it's time to shut up and watch the government go into a direction we may not want.