Separation of church and state? Not for this column
Yes, I did it again. I had another Facebook back and forth. I don’t mind them, and I don’t think the people I’m having the back and forth with mind them. But I sure am beginning to think that the folks around the edges, they mind everything.
This thread was pretty basic …. at least to me. A friend of mine questioned the lesson from church the previous Sunday. Since I attend the same church and probably was at the same service and this person is someone with whom I’ve had multiple conversations about all facets of life, including my personal life, I did what silly people across the Facebook spectrum tend to do: I offered my perspective. You would have thought I was the sole focus of the new “let’s get rid of the word bossy” campaign — ironically begun by an executive at Facebook.
None of the critiquing came from my friend, mind you. It came from those who don’t know me, as could be understood from them writing, “Hey, just who is this Craig guy and why is he preaching all of this stuff?” Of course, trying to answer questions such as these is almost as futile as trying to explain oneself in the land of YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND….i.e. Facebook. But I tried anyway. Simple stuff like, well, I’m not ordained, just providing my take. I even said my friend can think what she prefers. And as suspected, no one understood what I was trying to relate from my personal take on their personal take. So eventually, I did what I should have done to begin with and that was to take my time and write a personal message to my friend.
The message was simple. I stated that it’s impossible to be part of a church where you agree with everything the church believes, what the pastors say, all of the music or pretty much anything else at any given time. Church is a place to congregate with others to worship and build your faith. It isn’t a place that can make everyone happy in every aspect, because its nature is such that it can’t. What’s important to God is your relationship with God. And as far as I know, He doesn’t care how you draw nearer, as long as you draw nearer. One’s relationship with God can and should be perfect, but don’t expect the same with one’s church. My friend and I understood one another, and I offered up a prayer that she finds what she’s seeking with God.
It’s the same with politics. There’s simply no one politician or government entity that can represent how you feel, think or prefer to live your life or to have government take care of things. Sure, there are many things government does with which we can agree: national defense, infrastructure and public services like police and fire protection. And the closer we get to home, the more important and involved the government’s role should be.
To me, the problem isn’t the relationship we have with government —even though all too many elected folks do indeed believe they are god. It’s the relationships we have with our fellow man that makes all the difference. And the founders came up with as close to a perfect plan as has ever been seen in this world: The government should do little to nothing for you and you should do as you see fit as long as it doesn’t violate the God-given rights of others or go against the law. And for most of us, this works just fine because we strive to have great relationships with fellow citizens, which goes right along with what God made us for. We know better than to expect some elected bureaucrat, or worse a politician, to think and do as we or they’d prefer and that reason is simple: Bureaucrats and politicians make a living by voiding and taking and stepping on individual rights to make a living for themselves. And most important, they aren’t us.
That is why our government was purposefully designed to be small, so that we can live our own lives and beliefs. And much like church, where free will is a major part of one’s belief system, having a small government with limited intrusions can be tolerated, just like a sermon you don’t care for or a song from the band that seems more like a performance than worship. Then again, most of the sermons I don’t care for are the ones that point out what I’m doing wrong. Just like most of the things that government does wrong are things I’m bad at, like overspending, running theaters and (a lot more than I’ll admit) doing the wrong thing in general.
The good news is that according to God, I’m fixable. There’s forgiveness, repentance and learning the lifelong lessons in the Holy Bible. Same goes for our government. There are elections, our Constitution and more than 200 years of lessons on success and limited government to draw upon to fix it.
A church that intrudes on your life is a good thing. It makes life better. It makes you think. It’s also your choice to join and tithe. A government — at any level — that intrudes can only make life worse. And its mandatory donation program is a sin.