You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. -- Matthew 7:5
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Let's Get Small
The title of yesterday’s post was “what this country needs”, talking about man’s craving for right standing with his Creator and playing on early 20th Century advertising slogans suggesting that the good of the nation depended on some reasonably priced, high quality consumer product. In a nation of over 300 million on a planet of over 7 billion souls, the choices of one individual hardly seem noteworthy. Politics, even at its best, thinks in terms of groups and masses, and it is primarily for this reason that political solutions to human problems have always and will always fail. The programs are failures even when they can be sustained, even when the unintended consequences are less than catastrophic. Most often, of course, they end in blatant destruction, economic disaster, and bureaucratic tyranny.
What is needed is a better class of humans. Communists and Fascists like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot – to give them their bloody due, understood this. They simply killed off those who would not fit in their systems. These despots, not unlike many of us, see the other guy as the problem, and, sometimes, the other guy is the problem, but it is mostly a result of him trying to fix me.
I have always disliked collectivists and statists. It is, perhaps, bred in me. We were a clannish lot. We took care of ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. If we needed a schoolhouse, we got together and built it. If we wanted a church, we covenanted together and raised it. We hardly thought beyond the borders of our township, let alone the county, when it came to solving problems. When you are dealing with a few dozen people, when there are twenty or thirty children in the one-room school, and Sunday School attendance is fifty, it is easy to realize how vital it is for me to do the right thing and be a decent person.
It does not take a village to raise a child, but a village does do a better job of it than a massive, bureaucratic, central government. The further away the center of responsibility and accountability, the less we think what we do makes any real difference.
Jesus tells us this is not so. I am inclined to believe He is right. It does not matter if we find ourselves living in a massive, parasitic, corrupt police state. What matters ultimately, the only thing that matters ultimately, is my relationship with God. A nation changes, for the better, when enough individuals change for the better. You can change regimes, change governments, change political parties, reform laws and policies, but, if you have a nation of collectivists, a nation of individuals who point the finger and blame someone else, something else, you are going to have a corrupt, collectivist nation.
First, take the beam out of your own eye, even if the other guy doesn’t. We can easily get trapped in worrying about fixing Washington and getting a better president and a better Congress, pouring ourselves into that effort. We can complain about intrusive government, militarized police forces, and corrupt, tyrannical politicians. The truth is that we have the kind of government that a majority of citizens desire. It does not matter that they are being deceived. The easiest person to deceive is a deceiver.
But, you say, I’m not that way. I have gotten right with God. Things are still messed up. What do I do? Read it again. Once the log is out of your eye, you can see to get the speck out of your brother’s eye. Bring some light to the life of your family, your friends, and your neighbors. We may not be able to move the mountain just yet, but we can get the gravel out of our boots.
Mountains can, though, be moved, and they will be moved when we address them in faith. Maybe we will ponder that a little tomorrow.