Saturday, February 27, 2010

Does Doing Something Right Always Glorify God?

I was reading the blog today from one of my friends who is a college student with tremendous enthusiasm for several political issues. He stated in his blog that he had some "likely-unachievable goals." One of these was to "Do away with the modern system of scarcity-based economics. It’s all a lie, and this is/can be a post-scarcity world. If we let it. And we should". This "goal" sparked some thoughts I've been chewing on for a while.

I don't want to spark a debate about the idea of scarcity (the idea that there are not enough resources in the world to support the world's population). There are plenty of debates about this in other arenas. For this issue, each side has their own set of Eutopia-driven arguments as to why their side is best. And I don't have a clue how much money exists in the world, or how much of that money is based on actual resources and not just printed paper that's been put in circulation. I know there are just over 6 billion people in the world but couldn't begin to tell you how much money each person would get if each individual were to get the same slice of the pie. (I've also always wanted my blog to provoke thought rather than start arguments.)

Another cog in these ideas is that somehow the government(s) should be involved in seeing that everyone gets their fair share. And many churches have gotten on board to support this idea. I mean isn't that what the church should be about? To see that the poor are cared for? To see that everyone has a better standard of living? To right the wrongs of the world? But my question is this. When the church lobbies the government to do its bidding (care for the poor, sick, etc.), where does God fit into the picture? And if he does fit into the picture, how is he glorified?

In the parable of the good Samaritan, the victim lay beaten on the side of the road. Two members of the clergy pass by, then our hero arrives...a Samaritan-an outcast half-breed of unpure blood who was not entitled to all of the rights and privileges of a true Israelite-who shows compassion on the victim. Of course, we all know he puts the victim on his own animal and carries him to an inn where he cares for him. The Samaritan is blessed because he did something good for someone. The innkeeper could have been blessed, too because he got to be a part of the recovery process as well. But let's re-tell this story with some modern speculation. A modern man stumbles on the victim of a crime-scene and stops to make a call on his cell-phone. Once he as made the phone call, government and state officials come for free and take him somewhere where he can be cared for on the dollars of the government or some insurance company. Once the phone call has been made, our good Samaritan is not out any money, is no longer in the picture, and thus is deprived the blessings of being involved in the healing process. And the workers from the state who "took care of him" were merely doing their jobs, not necessarily helping out of a sense of compassion-even though their actions may have been just and good.

I believe God is concerned with the injustices of the world and obviously has called us to be concerned with those injustices. But more so than that he is concerned with glorifying himself-it's in his nature. In the Garden of Eden, God created man with a free will. People had the right to choose between serving God or serving themselves. And while he could have created us like robots who were forced to worship him, he knew he would be most glorified by instilling in us the ability to choose whether or not we would follow him. That being the case, we should ask ourselves, "Does doing something right even if it's against one's will, still glorify God?" I think that just because something is right doesn't necessarily mean it glorifies God.

We see a picture of this in the second chapter of Acts where the believers met together, worshiped together, devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and selling their possessions gave to each other as they had need. So why was God glorified in this? Because these people chose to stay together and share their possessions because of their love for Christ, not because they were being forced to do so. Had they lived in a society where everyone shared resources under the bidding of the government, I don't think God would have been glorified and the people would not have been blessed-they would have just been the product of a political system.

This is not a political blog. And while I think many Christians try to make theological issues of their political beliefs, I believe we should make political issues of our theological beliefs. That is what I hope to have done here.

No comments: