Friday, March 20, 2009

God Will Provide...Unless

Several years ago I felt impressed by God to plant a church. As the launch date approached I was praying one day and asked God, “What should be the name of this church?” Immediately God brought to my mind the 23rd Psalm which in part says that the Lord is my Shepherd and He leads me to green pastures and quiet waters. I began to reflect on those opening verses and green pastures became “meadows” and waters became “brooks” and thus the name of the church, Meadowbrook. In my very next thought (word from God) it occurred to me, “as a shepherd provides for his sheep, Meadowbrook will be a place where God provides.”

For 19 years Meadowbrook has been “a place where God provides”. I’ve been privileged to see a lot of God’s activity and miracles.

With that background you can see why the March 13 Wall Street Journal article, “God Will Provide—Unless the Government Gets There First” grabbed my attention.

Bradford Wilcox, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, declares that secularism seems to be on the march in America. Citing the Trinity College study that I posted about March 9, Wilcox highlights a recent study of 33 countries that found an inverse relationship between religious observance and welfare spending. Countries with larger welfare states, such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark, had markedly lower levels of religious attendance and trust in God than countries with a history of limited government, such as the US, the Philippines and Brazil.

“For many centuries, average citizens and local communities have often relied upon the support of religious organizations to meet their various social needs, including assistance for the poor, counseling in times of crisis and education for the young,” says Anthony Gill from the University of Washington. “But as the welfare state has expanded, many people have found that they can get these same services from government without having to give a time commitment to the local church.”

The current government revolution of cradle-to-career education and cradle-to-grave health care would reduce the odds that Americans would turn to their local religious congregations and fellow believers for economic, social, emotional, and spiritual aid.

Obviously practical services and support are not the only reasons that people have turned to churches. Many are motivated by a need or desire to have a personal connection with God. Nevertheless, Dr. Wilcox’s article raises concern that increased numbers of Americans in the near future may not approach closeness to God or to a community of faith through the “door of practical need” and thereby miss experiencing “God as Shepherd” who provides for His people.

Our greatest need is for personal relationship with God. Our lesser needs have often helped us to see our greatest need. It appears that increased government programs will bring increased challenge to the church in getting our message out that “God will provide”.

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