Saturday, February 8, 2014

It is the Work of the Church, not the Government

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. (Acts 2.44)
Many wonder why I am not a supporter of government “doing the work of the Church” by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless. As much as I teach the importance of these Christian traits, many are confused as to why I do NOT support the government being involved in these good works. The answer rests in the results of Communism as it has been expressed on the world scene in the 20th Century.

Within the Church for more than 2000 years, however, communism has been practiced with great success. Have you ever wondered HOW the Church has been successful with communism while governments have not been successful? The answer is freedom. The Church has NEVER forced her believers to live “in common” but allowed love to govern the hearts of believers. It was an act of love and unity that created the WILLING sharing of resources in the ancient Church.
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. (Acts 4.32)
To this day, communism is thriving within the Church through holy monasticism. Men and women VOLUNTARILY join monastic communities and live in common with each other. (Monasteries are not coed; men live in male monasteries and women in women monasteries.) In fact, joining a monastery is neither taken lightly, nor should it be a rash decision. Potential monastics are required to spend a period of time (varies from place to place) to ensure the decision is genuine and the way of life freely chosen. Then following a period of “testing” the candidate is eventually allowed to join the monastery. This process is necessary to ensure the freedom of every human being is preserved as a sacred gift of God.

When government is involved in communism, or any form of shared resources, freedom must be preserved at all costs. When, as was the case in Russia in the last century, resources are taken from one and given to another by force, the system ceases to become a response of love and unity, and becomes a system of resentment and separation. Eventually the system collapses, not because people are incapable of loving, but  because ultimately ever human being strives to be free.

So when I am faced with whether or not the government should get involved in the “work of the Church”, the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. The answer depends upon the hearts of those participating. There have been and will be times when the sharing of resources is universally and freely embraced. At those times, the answer might be yes. If however, the sharing of resources becomes a matter of force and lacks the free participation of those involved, I am less inclined to support such work.

Of course, this does not address the fact that I believe STRONGLY that the work of the Church is the WORK OF THE CHURCH and should not be delegated to the government, as the government by design does not work from the perspective of Christian love, but democratic compromise. The real answer, from my point of view, is THE CHURCH needs to get back to what it does best… as a community of love.