Conservatives, libertarians, and fundamentalists want low-cost symbolic gestures. They do not want to change the social order at today’s available prices. Yes, at zero cost, they would like to run the show. They would like to be in charge of the public schools. But shut them down through a refusal to fund them? No. That would mean a degree of sacrifice they are not willing to pay.
I’m not interested in running the show. I did have an enlightening two year experience with the LNP (Liberal National Party) from 2010-2012. I joined the party, made a speech at my LNP Branch Meeting, and was then sponsored to attend the State Conference in 2011 as a delegate, all expenses paid. All the heavies were there and I made a speech, amongst a lot of others.
But I discovered this: politics is mainly about the getting and keeping of power. Not much else really counts; certainly not ethics. They could only cope with a modest level of controversy; not too much rocking of the boat. Soon I realised I was a square peg in a round hole.
Running the show was something Gideon seemed strangely uninterested in, too (see Judges 8:22-23). And when the crowd recognised that Jesus was the prophet that Moses had predicted and wanted to make him a king, He withdrew (Jn.6:14-15).
What’s more important than politics? What is God’s way?
Christian individuals, families and churches getting their hands dirty, and taking responsibility for local problems. That way you get a whole community being steadily changed for the good. Giving an individual a lot of power has little to do with God’s way of doing things.
This is why this is the most difficult change to bring about. The devil opposes it, and most people simply can’t be bothered, and don’t see the point. It means time, money, inconvenience and sometimes suffering, and we can only accept a limited amount of all of those commitments. Yet these are all things that Jesus embraced willingly, and so did the early church.
When we apply the scripture to our circumstances there are implications, and when we don’t? There are implications too. And my attitude is this: it’s been the church’s refusal to apply the scripture to itself and to society, that has gotten us to our lowly state, today. We only have ourselves to blame, and it could be a lot better.
I grew up on a farm in NSW, which had two houses on it. About 800 metres up the road from our home was where my Grandmother lived till she died in 1961, aged 80. She’d lived there since marrying my grandfather in 1911, and the evidence indicates that they were Christians. He built the house, they raised four children and they farmed right through the Depression and both World Wars. When my brother married in 1973, he renovated the house and moved in.
People during the Depression were a lot more self-supporting and self-reliant. They had to be. On a farm there is a lot people can do to be self-reliant with vegetables, fruit and plenty of meat available. They also cared for others, because it was a tough time. There was an orchard at that house (as there was at ours) of about 30 fruit trees, and one of these was a fig tree, which was huge when I was a child. I don’t know how long it had been there in 1960; probably 40 years or more. How many jars of fig jam were made from that tree?
The point is that good things really do take time to develop. They cannot come about overnight. Every child begins as an embryo in their mother’s womb, but in time they come to maturity.
The imagery of growth and fruitfulness is significant in scripture. Yes, it pertains to individuals and families, but it extends far beyond those two. Consider how the Psalmist spoke of how God had transplanted Israel at the Exodus:
You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground before it, and it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shadow, and the cedars of God with its boughs. It was sending out its branches to the sea, and its roots to the River (Ps.80:8-11).
Isaiah confirms the Psalmist’s understanding:
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Israel His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress (Isa.5:7).
Earlier, God had spoken through Moses, saying,
All the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord (Num.14:21).
And later, He spoke through Habakkuk,
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Hab.2:14).
In the New Testament, Jesus appropriated the imagery of growth. He explained that
I am the vine, you are the branches; he that abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (Jn.15:5).
Peter describes the church as being “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (I Pet.5:9).
What if God were to over generations bring about the growth of the church, and steadily raise up His people in the nations of the world, so that they became confident, predominant people in their localities, and their nation? This would not be through fanfare and vain publicity, but through God’s people steadily applying the scripture to ourselves, our families, our churches and our society. That would significantly impact on the education, health and welfare of the nation. And none of this is hard to do, but it requires something of us.
All we’re talking about here is steady growth and fruitfulness, generation after generation, and each generation passing on to the next a testimony of faithfulness to God, and raising godly children. Individuals, families and churches exhibiting local integrity and responsibility.
And the probable outcome? The fulfilment of scripture:
…it took deep root and filled the land (Ps.80:9).
 Gary North (www.garynorth.com), “The Futile Commitment to Symbolic Gestures,” 16/9/2016