What Really Needs To Change

Brad comes back from vacation a bit riled up about what lies behind our national rancor over nationalized health care and Wayne quotes a few of dead guys from stuff he's been reading lately to shed some perspective on the brokenness of our culture and our human attempts to remedy it. Our political leaders are creating a culture of entitlement to foster people's dependency on the state and to solidify their political power and ambitions. At the core of this struggle is the fact that human nature craves its own expedience at the expense of a common good, and if we don't let God change that there is no hope of community or personal freedom.


  1. I write with some trepidation, but OK, here is the “elephant in the (global) room”! For those of us living elsewhere in the world (Australia in my case), the US presents us with many contrasts. We see a nation with a dominant and highly vocal Christian faith, but also a nation which scores rather poorly on some measures of compassionate civilisation, (eg. lack of universal health care, high levels of poverty and incarceration). This podcast provides a good snapshot of an apparent dichotomy.
    You guys have done so much to advance the message of God’s empowering and freely given love, as apposed a performance based “do good, get good” religion. The podcasts, The Shack, (and so much more), all point to the redeeming power of God’s unearned favour. So why then, do we also get the clear social/political message from you that unearned favour (welfare) corrupts? That such unearned favour will breed a demanding expectancy and dependancy.
    Can it be argued the the message of Jesus is to be so “compartmentalised” in its application.
    God is clearly prepared to take the risk of his unearned favour being “taken advantage of”. Do we have a better plan?
    Should it really burn us up inside if we see someone else is getting something they don’t deserve? Should we all get what we deserve, or just other people?

    In other words, I get the theory, I’m just struggling to find it in the application. Any explanations?

  2. Peter, good questions, I don’t have the answers either. Over here with our welfare system as it is, it can sometimes make slaves of the people it was designed to help. The system doesn’t help people to get more schooling or training, people seem to feel defeated, and after awhile they look to the government to supply all their needs and wants. You get in a deep pit and can’t find the way out. Jesus shows mercy and grace towards us, but He never coddles us, He doesn’t want us to be babies that have to be taken care of. We need to help others but not to the point where we’re encouraging them to remain in the pit. We need to give them a hand up, not a hand out. I think people on welfare should be given training, to find jobs helping out in the community-that they would be able to put on a resume. Just some thoughts I have.

  3. I agree with the person from Austraila. Sometimes our lives encounter illness – our family has been through a great deal of it. I find that many Christians interpret this as a result of “sin” in our lives. I know Christians who cannot afford health insurance who proudly proclaim that they aren’t dependent on the state but on God. They honestly think that if they face a healthcare crisis like we have, that God will meet their need. In reality most of those I have known who have this attitude when really facing a crisis, feel that they are entitled to God providing the money – sometimes God doesn’t come through and they end up on government programs anyway.

    I read the reply from you on this and I think – Government is trying to give that hand up through many programs, my daughter was able to become a CNA through the Voc Rehab program. We were financially bankrupt after putting her through treatment for an eating disorder. You know how our church handled it. They ignored us – no financial support whatsoever – in their eyes the ED was a result of sin. God has restored our fortune and blessed us beyond our imagination. BUT through this we’ve become compassionate – many Christians claim to be givers and community minded but they aren’t doing it in the real world.

    If you don’t want an entitlement culture , you and people like you will need to participate in service through political office. BUT instead you leave it up to those who will give their time and then stand back and criticize them. I’m very disappointed in the broadcast I’m hearing right now.

  4. As we have our “coming out” from the American experience, as it seems clear is happening, a couple of thoughts come to mind. First referring to your quote in the podcast from Washington: “Making voluntary sacrifice the operative principle of a republican government has proved to be a romantic delusion both individual citizens and sovereign states require coercion to behave responsibly”.

    It seems the very reason that God establishes civil authority, and directs us as his followers how to relate to it, is because he already knew what Washington had discovered. But in contrast to this isn’t voluntary sacrifice exactly what Jesus calls us to in him in the first place. He spent no small amount of time teaching that as the way of peace, life, and freedom. Does that make Jesus delusional? The fact that we are where we are simply shows that we aren’t living that message too well as “the church”
    and that the world has not apprehended (nor have we often enough) the gospel message.

    We clamor for our freedom but neglect what will bring it. Freedom is still framed within the idea of us, all of us, having it our way as opposed to His way, the way of the cross. We move forward toward the end of the American experiment because we’ve made room for the power seekers to bear gifts to those in need simply because we have failed to live up to our calling. The system is irreparably broken and is heading for the next iteration of national life whatever shape that takes; That system too will become irreparably broken reflecting Brad’s comment on the cyclical history of the old testament (which can be broadened to the history of the world).

    As believers I don’t think this changes our focus as we are to continually default to following Him, living for His sake and for the sake of the world around us in the places he has each of us. How we face these changing times should reflect that focus.

    Jesus has given us plenty to keep us busy till he comes and makes it all new. Not that we’ll be able to fix it all, he knew better, but that the effort would be a testimony to the world.

  5. I do see the dichotomy of the situation and recognize the repetition history reveals. Bottom line for me is, as a believer, loosely quoted – We live in the world but we are not of the world. Yeah, we gotta follow some rules to keep the peace ’cause it’s just not fully in us to do right from the heart at all times.
    I don’t think we will ever bring full resolve to the human dilemma via government simply because our human virtue is limited. We start out with small simple desires to help the less fortunate or to fix what we see as broken or deficient and soon enough it gains momentum and gathers in from many places … and oh what a tangled web we weave! We do the best we can and are still destined to fail in the long run – on the human, worldly level. However, it’s the journey that counts and what each ones place is in this gigantic panorama of time – only God sees the full picture and can make perfect sense of it. We see in part and know in part but God … He has no problem with the outcome.

    Government has its necessary place in the world and it will probably continue in the patterns we recognize. And we can still have our say and be involved in our government processes and hope for the best, whatever our particular persuasion is. Romans 12, 13 & 14 is a good place to go and refresh our weary hearts from all this political strife.
    The genuine and virtuous things are the perfect gifts that come to us from the Father, the fruits of the Spirit. These things can never be stolen as we spend our life growing in His LOVE. That’s what will save us! That’s our ticket to true freedom.
    I guess if we choose to participate in the national debate, do it with love as much as you can and if it’s just too hard to deal with, well, just go with the flow and still continue to shine.

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