About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Government – Big Church
September 27, 1983, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed
Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and other conservatives in the 1980's, were
avid supporters of political and economic conservatism.
From my perspective, their leadership boosted the spirits of
those in the western world. There
were sufficient difficulties throughout the 1970's that dampened our
spirits. The decade began
with high inflation and rising unemployment.
It was hard finding a job for us young people in 1971.
The Oil Crisis of the mid 1970's sent energy prices
sky-rocketing. While in
Bible college at the time, we were told to take quick showers and only
wash the "vital parts" of our bodies to save on energy costs.
If I would have had the nerve, I should have asked, "what vital parts
are you specifically speaking of"?
The Vietnam War dragged everyone down.
I became friends with two young men who had their legs blown off
in battle. Richard Nixon,
or, "tricky Dick" as he came to be known, disgraced
its very nature, government is socialistic to one degree or another.
That's just the way it is. Even
Margaret Thatcher admitted that. How
socialistic government should be is the question.
politically and economically conservative with a "mild" touch
of what I call "soft socialism".
I am also "ecclesiastically conservative".
I'll get to that later. I
believe the more you demand from government, the more government will
demand from you. The one who
provides for you is the one to whom you are in debt, and no one likes
being in debt, especially to the government.
the 1980's, Christian Conservatism, or, the "Christian Right",
as it was known, emerged as a force to be reckoned with in American
politics. Pat Robertson,
(Christian Broadcasting Network) entered the race for president in the
1988 election. The movement
soon spread to
American "Christian Right" in the 1980's was led by Pat
Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others.
While these men were promoting political, social, and fiscal
conservatism, many of them were growing their "mega-churches".
Big government was not acceptable to them, but big church was. If
you don't see a problem with this, as many don't, I suggest that you
fail to understand New Testament thinking concerning church.
Christian roots sprouted from a small Evangelical congregation planted
in the early 1950's. Even
back then the seeds of "big church" were being planted.
Ironically, and he probably didn't realize it, President John F.
Kennedy made a statement that denotes the Christian's relationship to
church. On January 20th,
1961, he exhorted Americans by saying, "ask not what your country
can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country". Back
in 1961 church leaders should have been exhorting Christians by saying,
"ask not what the church can do for you, but ask what you can do
for the church". I'm
not sure they were making such an exhortation.
For the most part, they were planting the seeds of "big
church" that have grown into the present day
"mega-church", or, "want-to-be mega-church.
"Big church" relieves the individual from his
Biblically mandated personal responsibilities just like "big
government" relieves the individual of his responsibilities, and in
the long run, relieves him of his freedom as well.
Of course, just like "big government", the highly
financed "big church" can do it all for us.
That's what we want and that's why we shop around for the
"church of our choice", the church that best benefits us.
1980's movie entitled "Field Of Dreams" might have coined the
phrase "build it and they will come", but Evangelicals
preached and practiced this long before the 1980's.
In 1971 I heard the same words spoken in one local congregation.
So they built. Everyone
else built, and we're still building.
and songwriter Emmy Lou Harris once said, "in the making of
records, we've lost the living room experience in our music".
The commercialization and "big business" of music has
stolen the hearts and souls from those who once enjoyed playing music in
their living rooms and kitchens. In
like fashion. the commercialization and growing of "big
church" has stolen the hearts and souls from those who once enjoyed
the experience of personal fellowship and responsibility in church.
church is meant to be a "living room type of experience",
although not necessarily in a living room. Each
and every individual in the living room, or, in the church, has his own
personal responsibilities, just as each and every individual musician
has his part to play in making music with his friends in the kitchen.
What Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan preached about "big
government", and what Kennedy said on January 20, 1961, applies to
the church. If we hand our
personal responsibilities over to "big church", we lose the
purpose for its existence. Why
conservative Christians don't want "big government" but do
want "big church" is hard for me to figure out.
I think it comes down to two things.
One is a lack of Biblical understanding.
The other is our ever-present fallen nature that prefers to defer
responsibility to someone else.
Thatcher said, "if the government does everything for you, it will
take everything from you". I
say, "if the church does everything for you, it will take
everything from you". I'll
let you mull that one over.