* How can God’s people make a truly significant difference in the culture of this country?
* One teacher suggested: We should get with the other churches in town (not just Churches of Christ) and combine our efforts to do good works, getting into the lives of the poor and needy, changing this community. We may not be able to change the nation all at once, but we can change our community if all the churches work in concert, rather than going it alone and competing with each other.
* Is he right?* As we consider the righteous of our political parties, ponder these observations —
— U.S. and European farm subsidies provide welfare to big business while leaving the poorest in the world in deep poverty by allowing U.S. corporate farmers to under-price third-world farmers, keeping them from working their way out of poverty. In fact, the way a poor nation begins to work out of poverty is through export of farm products, and yet U.S. and European farm subsidies keep the poorest nations from competing. http://endpovertyblog.org/taxonomy/term/289
Ironically, rather than encouraging poor nations to work their way into self-sufficiency, we subsidize our own farmers so that they can’t, and then send free food and money to the poor nations, turning them into beggars — all at huge cost to the taxpayers. Both parties support these policies.
What would be the Christian position on these questions?
Why isn’t the Christian position the government’s position?
— Until the adoption of the recent trade treaty with Peru, the U.S. had refused to impose “fair trade” requirements on its trading partners, insisting, for example, that the workers making the goods the U.S. buys be paid a fair wage (not as much as US workers make but more than $1.00 per day).
For a sense of the attitude of the US churches, see this fascinating blog post and the resulting comments, dealing with fair trade chocolate.
By the way, the excellent book Freedomnomics, by a conservative economist, describes a study of fair trade coffee. In England, coffee shops began selling fair trade coffee at substantially higher prices. The coffee producers in Central America were paid a fair wage — $1.00 an hour, as I recall (my book is lost in a box somewhere) — and many coffee shop patrons were willing to pay more to assure a fair wage to Central American workers.
But the economist found that the impact of paying a fair wage on the cost of coffee to the shops was less than a penny a cup! When he revealed that finding in a news story, the shops were shamed into selling fair trade coffee at the same price as regular coffee — hugely increasing the market for fair trade coffee and bringing dignified wages to many more Central Americans at no cost to the public. (Compare that one to US farm policy!)
And yet the author of the blog linked above, a devout and thoughtful Christian, shows how we think. He instinctively rejected the idea of fair trade chocolate as unimportant to the practice of Christianity. We spend millions a year to Central America sending teens and others to build houses and dig wells, subsidizing them as charity cases. But when the idea of seeing that they are paid a fair wage is broached, we scoff. It’s not really consistent thinking, is it? If you were a Central American coffee worker or chocolate worker, would you rather have a U.S. build you a house or have your employer pay you a wage high enough to let you support your family?
— My thinking is probably a little obscure, so let me explain. My theory is that we American Christians get our values more from the political parties than the Bible. And we conservatives (I usually vote Republican and will not vote for a pro-choice candidate) tend to get our values from the RNC, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News.
Therefore, we are deaf and blind to issues that affect millions on which we should be screaming. We instinctively sneer at fair trade policies and products, thinking they are “Democrat” and liberal. We favor farm policies that starve the same people we send missionaries and teen mission trips to. We have been consumed by a culture that defines the issues in ways designed to give power to one party or the other, while ignoring God’s issues.
Just so, the Democrats have been told that to help the poor, they have to hold their noses and allow the mass murder of the unborn. And many Christians do just that.
Both parties are capable of great evil and the church has no business being a part of or cheerleader for either.
Rather, as one of our teachers suggested, I think we need to (a) get out of politics, (b) get busy helping the needy, just as Jesus told us to do, (c) a retrain ourselves to see the great issues of our time from Jesus’ perspective, not the Republican or Democrat perspective, and (d) unite with other churches to help the needy and advocate for them.
But I don’t think we ignore politics. Rather, we hold our nation’s leaders accountable to God’s will — not just one the issues they like to talk about: all of God’s will.
Finally, we resist the temptation to do our Christianity through the government. Again — it’s too inexpensive and too easy. We are called to help the poor — not to vote to help the poor. The political side can never replace Christians being Jesus to a lost and hurting world.
And if we do that, maybe we’ll avoid being the next Lachish.
* What is the most likely way that God would allow the U.S. to fall as Lachish fell?
I think the answer is just around the corner — by allowing the Christian culture to become a minority culture. I think we’ll be conquered from within — if we don’t get busy being Jesus to the world.