Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. (Psalm 50:15 ESV).
At the beginning of the ladies Bible study the other day, we were talking about the Government and the new health care plan. I casually mentioned that the Lutheran Church established some of the first schools in America, various churches started the first hospitals and churches in general have always provided for the needs of the poor.
The role of the State in the early years of this great nation was to provide for the defense of our nation and to promote the general welfare of the people. This meant that the State; i.e. the government, was to maintain an army, provide roads, print or coin legal tender and to make laws to protect the freedom and rights of the citizens of this country. And of course, no particular religious denomination was to be allowed to be the ‘official’ religion.
The last statement regarding religion in government has morphed into what many now call “The Separation of Church and State.” It was never intended to forbid religion, however. Otherwise the founding fathers would not have written, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ...”
As I was driving home for lunch that day, I started thinking about the separation of Church and State and how that argument has often been used to ban God, especially Jesus Christ from State venues. As I considered the separation of Church and State, it occurred to me that the responsibilities of the Church have not been separated, but have actually been taken over by the State.
In other words, the government has taken over the roles of education, welfare and now healthcare; roles once and to some extent still done by the churches. The problem however, is that the State has done this while excluding God, especially Jesus Christ. Then it occurred to me that rather than the State separating itself from the Church, many people have voted to let the State become their Church. They no longer rely on God, but rely on the government for all their needs. While it is certainly true that God has established government to be servants of all people, God never intended for the Government or its rulers to become gods in the eyes of His creation.
The prophet Jeremiah warned Israel about such an occurrence, “But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.” (Jeremiah 2:28 ESV) There is a great danger in relying on the government for all your needs. The government wields the sword of justice. When you do not obey the laws to the land, the State has the power to punish you. The Law, whether it is God’s or the State’s, was never intended to save sinners. The government cannot save your soul and we all fall short of obeying God’s laws.
But those who rely on God can trust in His mercy won by Jesus Christ on the Cross. Christ rules over His people through those who proclaim His grace and forgiveness. Indeed, it is God alone whom we rely on. It is God alone who can save your soul. It is God alone whom we trust. And that makes all the difference. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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