Spheres of Influence : The Church in American Society
While at a speaking engagement in Colorado, I had a wonderful conversation with two people who maintain a strong faith in God. It was one of those times when you are shown some ideas and concepts that seem so obvious a person wonders why they have not seen them like this before. So, with permission, I am writing this short piece about Christ’s church in American society. Thank you to those who showed me your thoughts and allowed me to write about them for the good of our church and our society.
It is no mystery that America’s federal government is much bigger than it was ever intended. The reasons and the blame for this are abundant, but one of the reasons that I will highlight here is the marginalization of Christ’s church in our society. At times this was done through legislation, and at times due to the church itself. In far too many ways, it is our own fault.
The picture below is a representation of what happens when Christ’s church does not fill critical circles of influence in our society. As issues of faith, family, education, and business are not addressed or influenced by the church as designed, the government steps in to fill a need. Childcare, education, the relationship between a husband and wife, and business dealings are all managed by the government and not the church. This is a jurisdictional overreach. Some might argue that the so-called separation of church and state makes this a requirement. This is not intended to be an article about that topic, but the separation of church and state argument is not valid, and the intention was always that the church would be the government’s greatest influence while the government was not to step into matters of faith. Unfortunately, over time that argument resulted in the minimizing of Christ’s church and maximizing the size of government.
The next picture describes what many of us would like to see happen. It is time for the government to shrink drastically. That has been true for a while. It is easy to complain about the size and scope of government, and if the picture below accurately describes the size of government we prefer, we still have problems since the other segments of society remain the same size. This creates a vacuum of influence where the natural inclination is for the government to grow and once again dominate.
The last picture depicts a better situation. God is the center of all we do, faith, family, education, business, and other aspects of society are bigger and more relevant than government. The government, though a necessary evil, is small and does not interfere with family or faith. You cannot even read the word government in this picture, and that’s the point. It is not supposed to be a big part of our lives. However, the government can be a blessing if operating as intended.
It would also be easy to talk about several areas of society not listed, or that government should not touch education. The bigger point here is that if Christ’s church does not step in and fulfill its functions, the government will again grow. When we shrink the government then the church must step up and assist families in need, educate children, magnify the Word of God, and influence business relationships and ethics. The same is true for many aspects of society where the church is to be dominant. This is not an argument for theocracy, but an argument to tell people that simply reducing the government is not enough. We must simultaneously grow the church and put God back at the center of our nation.[i]
[i] I am specifically speaking to Christ’s church as described throughout the holy scriptures of the Bible. America has several “churches” that teach in opposition to truth. They are not the churches of which I speak. The church is, in fact, not a building, it is the body of Christ made up of the people.