Over and over again, the Bible describes concentric circles of responsibility. Each of us is charged with being responsible for our own situation FIRST. The individual is expected to do all that he or she can to avoid being a burden to anyone else.
Galatians 6:5The responsibility for one’s own financial situation lies first with the individual. But, of course, many of us simply find ourselves in situations that are beyond our control, and we may need some help. Who is to step in at times like these? The Bible tells us that the next concentric circle of responsibility lies with the family of those in need:
For each one will bear his own load
1 Timothy 5:8But what if the person in need has no family? Who then is to step in and help out? The Bible is clear that there is one more concentric circle of responsibility; the body of believers (the Church):
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 John 3:17But while the Bible is clear about these three concentric circles of responsibility, it is also clear that there is no additional circle! The government is never described as the final ‘net’ for all those in need. The government is never described as the fourth level of responsibility. The Church is described as the final line of defense against homelessness and hunger. So why do we as Christians, seem to want a bigger government that will take over a responsibility that is supposed to be ours as the Church? I think there are a few reasons:
But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother (in the faith) in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1 Timothy 5:9-10
A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
We’re Just Too Lazy to Do It Ourselves
I think many of us would rather toss and few mindless tax dollars at a problem than roll up our own sleeves and do what we are called to do! It’s easy to watch others do the heavy lifting? What percentage of Christian church attenders are actively involved with the homeless or needy?
We Think We Can Create a Moral Society By Imposing A Moral Behavior
Some of us think that our society would be a more ethical society if they would simply take care of those in need. While this is true, we’ve got to remember that we cannot force others to behave ethically, we can only ‘woo’ them toward such behavior. Forcing taxes from people I an effort to help those in need does not create people who now have a heart for those in need! Instead, it most often develops animosity on the part of those who have been forced to give something to a cause they really don’t support
We Think the Government Can Do A Better Job
Some of us are under the misconception that large government agencies outperform small faith communities when it comes to caring for the homeless and the needy. But nothing could be further from the truth. A simple review of the annual expenditures of churches that serve those in need will reveal that the collective efforts of Christians in this area dwarfs the effort of our government. Christians do the job more often and with better results
We Recognize That It’s Easier to Grow the Government Than the Church
We can grow the government by simply voting a program into place, but growing the church is much harder. We would have to love those in our world enough to stand up for the truth and share it with them, even when it’s not politically correct. We would have to love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ enough to want to care for each other’s needs. And we would have to actually begin to live as Christians and stop passing our responsibilities off to others.
So as we think hard about the issues that are important to us in this election, let’s remember what we are called to be and what we are called to do. We don’t have to wait until the next candidate becomes president to address the issues that we know are important; we can start today, right here in the context of our own lives, our own families and our own churches. Our lives need to be bigger, our churches need to be bigger, and our efforts need to be bigger. The government, on the other hand does not need to be bigger at all.