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Earlier this week, President Obama introduced us to Julia—a fictional character whose entire life is subsidized by the Federal Government (i.e., your tax money). Her website shows all the government benefits she would receive under President Obama from birth through retirement and compares them to what she would receive (or wouldn’t) under that eeeeevil Mitt Romney.
The narrative was written to emotionally appeal to the uninformed, as the information provided was extremely misleading, inaccurate, and incomplete, yet many of the President’s followers will undoubtedly accept it without question. Instead of taking time to pick apart every (non)factual representation myself—I’ll leave that for others to do—I’m going to focus on the most troubling aspect of this story from a faith perspective. Apparently, our friend Julia has no ability to provide for herself, as well as no family, friends, or faith connection to offer assistance when she has a need.
Government is her only hope.
This illustrates a topic I discuss in my book Saving America: A Christian Perspective of the Tea Party Movement. I line up the attributes and roles of God with the attributes and roles of our current governmental structure and conclude that government has usurped God’s authority, systematically decreasing our dependence on him, crowding out any room for his influence over our lives.
Fitting with this, Julia’s story is told as if the Federal Government is her only option for being able to live a fulfilling and healthy life. We learn that the Federal Government is her Provider, Comforter, Father, Hope, Foundation, Great Physician, Owner of All Things, One and Only Savior, and is Worthy of All Praise. In other words, government is her god. As a result, the actual God—the only one who can provide anything of eternal value—plays no role in her life.
The Bible has a word for substituting something else for God: idolatry.
The fictional life of Julia reflects the troubling reality that many Americans have bought into the Evil One’s lie that only government can meet their needs (and, in many cases, their wants). In tricking us into increasingly ascribing to government all the attributes I listed, he is separating us from the only one to whom they actually belong. And through that separation, God’s power over our lives decreases as government’s increases. We no longer know how to take care of ourselves or one another and instead become increasingly dependent on a cold, corrupt bureaucracy that is interested only in expanding its own power.
This is similar to what the Israelites did when they first demanded an earthly king to rule them instead of God, even against his stern warning about the tyranny their king(s) would ultimately impose, reducing the Israelites to slaves (1 Samuel 8). He also said that when they cried out to him for relief that he would not answer. They chose Big-Government rule anyway. And God, as he typically does, gave the people over to their idolatrous desires. He granted their wish to become subjects of an all-powerful government, and then exactly what he warned them would happen happened.
This is where we are in America today. Our government is trying to become our earthly king, ruling us, ultimately turning us into slaves. And if we willingly subject ourselves to government as Ruler instead of God, as the Israelites did, I fear he will give us over to our idolatrous hearts and not answer us when we finally cry out for relief.
We could collectively cry out to him now—many, including myself, already are—and repent of our allowing government to usurp God’s authority over our lives. We could reject government as Ruler and instead live by God’s Holy Spirit, exuding humility and kindness toward others, building self-sustaining communities that love and support one another rather than fostering helpless communities that disdain and take from one another. We will then naturally meet the needs of the hungry, the elderly, the widows and orphans—and anyone else in need, no matter what the cost.
And God, not government, will again be our Provider, Comforter, Father, Hope, Foundation, Great Physician, Owner of All Things, One and Only Savior, and Worthy of All Praise.