God, Government and the Shutdown

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

WorkerIt is no understatement to say America and the world are living at a unique moment of history, perhaps never to be repeated. Right now, the world is on a global "lockdown" as we attempt to escape the global COVID-19 pandemic. And while many Americans are not working right now, such a situation cannot go on in its present form forever and everyone knows it. The reason for that is simple; a society cannot survive without people working to provide for their basic needs and so that we can generate a tax base to support the government and run our nation. But what if those presuppositions are wrong or seen very differently by people? What if people decided that they didn't really want to work as much anymore? What if people decided to just let the government take over most things and support their lives so everyone could be kept safe from the pandemic?

It might shock people to know that such a system has already been underway in America for a long time now and is increasing rapidly by the day. We call that system socialism and it has been gaining momentum in our nation in dramatic ways as of late. Have you noticed? No, if we are honest, more and more Americans are falling under the spell of socialism each year, especially the young. As a result, increasing numbers of people and politicians are in NO hurry to go back to work, especially if working might get in the way of the government taking care of us and keeping us safe during the pandemic.

America's journey toward living in a safe, socialistic world, where the government takes care of and protects us has been slowly growing for over 100 years. President Woodrow Wilson started some of this thinking by pushing for a federal income tax under the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913. That movement led the government into collecting more and more of our money to take care of us and has continued through a variety of progressive Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" in the 1930s to Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" in the 1960s. As the public has been taken care of more and more by government, it has gotten easier and easier and more acceptable. Sadly, all of this has led to a slow corruption of our electorate by political leaders who promise us more and more money from the public treasury. Such a pattern was actually foreseen in 1776, around the time of our nation's founding. At that time a European historian, Alexander Fraser Tytler, published a work entitled, "The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic." In his work, Tytler made the following observation:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loss of fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world's great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith,
From spiritual faith to great courage,
From courage to liberty,
From liberty to abundance,
From abundance to selfishness,
From selfishness to complacency,
From complacency to apathy,
From apathy to dependency,
From dependency back again to bondage
All of the above issues can be recognized in much of the growing socialistic thinking going on now that has led us to this battle of what to do about our current economic shutdown. Some people say we need to get back to work soon, while others are in no real hurry because the government will take care of things. This new understanding of government's role in our lives has nothing to do with the current worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. It has everything to do with the role of the government in our lives in general and whether or not people even need to really work again in any serious way. As long as the government can borrow and print money...trillions of dollars by the way to "bail us out", there is really never a clear way to force our shutdown to totally end and get people back to work. Once again, why really work when the government is there to keep us safe from the virus and meet our basic needs as a society?

You see it is possible for any government to keep playing the "crisis game" with no real end to the "crisis" ever in sight. That is true because there is no one to hold the government accountable for their financial borrowing and control. If perchance the U.S. government does go "broke" they just devalue the currency and the value of what people own or have saved to fund their borrowing. That, by the way, is not speculation, it already happened during the Great Depression in 1934. During that time President Roosevelt made every American turn in their gold for $20 an ounce and then revalued that same gold, now held by the government, to $35 an ounce. President Roosevelt essentially stole $15 an ounce from every American that held gold in order to "save" the nation from our economic problems. Most Americans don't even remember that this even happened. How can we miss seeing that we may be heading in that exact same direction again as we borrow trillions of dollars to support a nation that is not working right now? Sooner or later all of this financial borrowing and charades must have a day of reckoning. But who pays in the end? Governments don't create wealth, they only take it and redistribute it. So, in the end, the financial chaos underway right now will eventually have to be paid for by working Americans with assets that have real value that the government can take or revalue to keep them going.

And while all of this is very troubling,  a much deeper problem is also going on that people have totally missed and that goes far beyond our growing reliance on socialistic thinking. The deeper, spiritual issue underway is that the entire concept of government and the meaning of work itself are being changed and lost before our eyes. The moment government begins to be seen by the public as their real provider is the moment people begin to see government as their god. When that happens, the government is no longer seen as a means that God uses to meet our needs, but an end in and of itself. In other words, government becomes God. Once that happens the Lord is no longer needed and the State rules and reigns over people's lives in any way they want. Once that happens there is no longer any need to pray to the Lord for anything, let alone our daily bread as our Lord instructs us to do in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11,
                                                     Give us this day our daily bread
So, it turns out during this pandemic that if people don't go back to work soon and increasingly need and trust the government to take care of them, we will end up at a tipping point in our history as a Nation. The government will begin to give us our daily bread and be our god. No longer will we rely on the Lord to do it.  When that happens a new "god" will have been crowned, the god of government.

Now the Bible is very clear that real work is an important part of living in this fallen world. Real work was and is given to us by the Lord to remind us that we need God and His provision for our lives each day. All of us are ultimately totally dependent on the Lord, not the government. And while the Bible is not against charity for the poor and others in need, the Bible is totally against socialism of any kind without the Lord because of the exact problems discussed in this article. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul, in talking about the centrality and importance of work to our lives says in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10,
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."
The Apostle Paul never counted on the Roman government to pay his bills. He never borrowed from anyone. Even in his public ministry, Paul did additional work as a tentmaker to support himself. Paul looked to the Lord alone to provide him with his daily bread. Paul never encouraged fellow Christians to sit back and remain idle, counting on others to provide for them. Such behavior would corrupt people, create a false dependency on others and damage their trust and need for the Lord as the only true and real provider for their lives.

You see it turns out that the entire idea of work itself is ultimately designed to be a witness to the work the Lord Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Our Lord Jesus worked for us to pay the debt and cost for all of our sins. Our Lord worked to complete the work His Father had given Him for us according to John 17:4. Our Lord did not borrow from someone else or go into debt. When our Lord hung on the cross and cried on in His final breath that it was finished in John 19:30, He was announcing that our debts and sins had been "paid in full" – "tetelestai" in the Greek. Our Lord was and is THE model that all work was intended to have importance, dignity and would be a witness to His redeeming love.  The idea that any government could ever pay for or take care of our needs as a primary source, and replace our work, is totally foreign to everything in the heart of God for this world.

In closing, it is very clear that our nation is at a turning point in our history with the Covid-19 pandemic. But more importantly, we are at a deeper turning point regarding our entire view of the Lord and His central role as our Provider and Protector. Those issues are the real ones that everyone should be thinking about in this hour. May the Lord Jesus Christ give everyone great wisdom and discernment in this critical hour about that distinction.  May we never let our government be our god. May we never support any political leader that moves us in that direction.  May we always be loving witnesses to the True Government and True Work that comes from our Lord alone and that is needed by everyone in this time of shutdown and national chaos.