I was reading a newspaper article today about the trillions of dollars that have been spent on fighting poverty, poor levels of education (and high drop out rates), gang violence, and drugs since the Great Society government programs were started by President Johnson in the 1960's. The author was lamenting that with all the money that has been spent, nothing has changed, and in fact things have gotten worse, particularly in the decline of education. He could not understand why this was. His only answer was that we needed to spend more money and have more government programs.
Do more of what hasn't worked? Does that make sense?
What's has intentionally been left out of these efforts to help people? God, and God's methods for helping people who need help.
Government can never solves these problems.
For example, how does the Bible deal with poverty? Does it say the government should feed those who cannot afford food? No, it does not. Does it say churches should feed those who cannot afford food? No, it does not. The Bible gives the principle of gleaning. People who grow food are to leave some in the fields for those who don't. Do they just give it to those who need food? No. People must harvest their own. They must work for the food they need.
Yes, there are some people who are not physically about to work. But the Biblical principle is that those who are able to should work to support themselves. And the form of charity that we should provide is opportunities for people in need to work.
How does this apply in our situation? We are not all farmers who can leave parts of our fields unharvested so that poor people can gleen. An example of what we can do is: business owners can hire one more person than they actually need. Is this a charity job? No. The person would be expected to get to work on time and do useful work. If they don't show up for work, just like anyone else they get fired. No work. No money. No food. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12)
People not only get fed, they learn good work habits and gain work skills.
But more importantly we can not leave God out. People need to know who they are. That they are created in God's image. That means we are not some unimportant bit of random biological stuff that came from swamp goo a billion years ago. You are created in God's image! You are loved by God. God knew you and loved you even before you were conceived in you mother's womb. God even sacrificed His only Son so that you can be saved from God's wrath.
Since you are created in God's image, you represent God to all the universe. That's important. You are important. Are you representing God well? Or are you misrepresenting who God is?
Labels: american culture, church, education, government, poverty