It occurred to me that we humans treat God and government in much the same way.
When times are good, we tend to marginalize God and we rail against “big government.”
But when the bottom falls from beneath us, we run to God or government or both, depending on the situation.
Nicholas Kristoff wrote an article in The New York Times about a former employee of Chase Bank whose job it was to award sub prime loans to people whom the bank knew were poor risks. If things fell apart, the bank reasoned, the government would bail the banks out …and no one would be the wiser.
Things did fall apart and the government (that would be big government) did in fact bail banks and corporations out, and the people who had been granted loans the banks knew they’d never be able to pay were left out in the cold – some of them literally.
Big government did what a government is supposed to do, right?
In times of economic prosperity, however, big government is spurned and scorned. It is pushed to the side; a government too involved in the life of the masses of people makes it too “socialist.” Whatever America is, it is not socialist. God forbid.
The same type of marginalization of God tends to be a reality. When times are good, for way too many people God is an afterthought, or if not an afterthought, an unwelcome reminder that there is a God who is the same whether times are good or not.
In Biblical literature, the Israelites, over and over, rejected God when times were good, when they were enjoying economic prosperity and benefited from all that money gives. They failed to understand that God doesn’t like to be marginalized and they failed to appreciate God’s anger against such insensitive treatment.
When times got bad, however, and they always got bad – these same people would fall before God and ask for forgiveness and mercy and relief from their dilemmas.
Government doesn’t much care, one would suppose, if it is marginalized. Government, though it is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people,” doesn’t have a personality with which adherents have to deal. Government takes its knocks; some politicians do what they can for “the least of these” when the anti-big government cries are loud, and they see that those whose voices cannot be heard are those who are themselves marginalized, with seemingly no voice.
God, on the other hand, according to the Bible, doesn’t take very well to being marginalized. If we are to believe the Biblical texts, then God must be fuming because the recent spate of prosperity encouraged way too many people, some of them church-going believers – to push Him/Her to the side.
But that’s how we treat God and government. We consider them our tools, our property, really, to use when we need them, but to be pushed onto a nice shelf when we are doing all right.
A candid observation …
God and Government, Really © 2011 Candid Observations