The Church of the Dark Shadows

Continued from “The Bible or the Bayonet

It is one thing to say that America is in the state that it’s in because the church hasn’t been doing its job, but it’s completely another to propose a solution to begin turning the tide back again. Not only is the American church asleep at its post, it is completely oblivious and apathetic in the few short hours that it is awake on Sunday mornings. And, as Mark Steyn points out, this is exactly what must happen for tyrants to flourish: “Big government depends, in large part, on going around the country stirring up apathy — creating the sense that problems are so big, so complex, so intractable that even attempting to think about them for yourself gives you such a splitting headache it’s easier to shrug and accept as given the proposition that only government can deal with them.” [1]

Steyn’s phrase “stirring up apathy” is as brilliant as it is oxymoronic, but this is exactly what government does. It seems rather counter-intuitive to think of creating apathy by calling attention to it, but the government has been doing this for a long time and has gotten quite good at it. By “stirring up apathy” the government creates job security for itself by pretending to clean up each and every mess that it has made. It was big government that got us into this mess, and now we are expected to believe that only big government can get us out? Stirring up apathy indeed.

But what does this mean for the rest of us, those of us in the second group of Jesus’ parable? I would submit that we are in the midst of an unprecedented opportunity for second group Christians to begin coming out of the shadows and exercising their talents and abilities. Jesus said to “occupy” or “do business,” and that is exactly what we should be doing: taking care of business. There are two major themes in President Obama’s current dismantling of the American system: debt and health care. It should have occurred to some of us by now that the Bible has much to say about both of these areas; both are mandates given to the church and should be taken seriously. The Bible tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender and that debt is surefire way to create a cycle of dependency, making slavery a habit. The Bible also speaks about ministering to the sick and the hungry, alleviating pain where possible and filling stomachs when necessary. These mandates were not given to the government, but the modern-day “Church of the Dark Shadows” has allowed government to walk right in and take its God-given mission field away. This is unacceptable, not to mention unbiblical; and the church can expect to stay right where it is, invisibly attempting to reach the world for Christ, until it gets back to its basic mission of being a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow.

Imagine—it’s easy if you try—a world where every church member is out of debt and every child that dreams of becoming a doctor will work in the medical clinic that his own church operates. Imagine—it’s not hard to do—a world where second group Christians are being encouraged and provided with nearly limitless opportunity to exercise their gifts and abilities in a church that serves as the community center; a church that provides education, restoration, rehabilitation, and sanctification to a community of lost and hurting people, people who have gambled everything on the government and lost. Imagine—I wonder if you can—a world where the church doesn’t need, rely on, or fear the government, because it has each other and, most importantly, it has Jesus and that is enough. In fact, it is more than enough because there’s always some to share. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. The real dreamer is the one who—like John Lennon—puts his hope and faith in man, rather than the God Who called us to do these tasks in the first place.

Mark Steyn ends his article with these words:

Of course we’re “vulnerable”: By definition, we always are. But to demand a government organized on the principle of preemptively “taking care” of potential “vulnerabilities” is to make all of us, in the long run, far more vulnerable. A society of children cannot survive, no matter how all-embracing the government nanny… Once big government’s in place, it’s very hard to go back. [1]

He’s right, of course, but one must ask: “Hard to go back to WHAT?” Steyn and the tea-party conservatives must begin looking a little deeper than simply getting rid of “big government.” Big government is bad, we agree, but what do you replace it with? The sweat, grit, and bootstrap determination of the individualistic American making his own way in life is a great story for Hollywood, but doesn’t fit the bill for the real world. What we need are focused occupiers, doing the business of the church who have no need of the welfare and the financial slavery that big government is peddling. They may be able to make us pay for it, but they can’t make us use it.

[1] Mark Steyn, “Retreat into Apathy,” National Review Online, June 13, 2009. Online here.