Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Anarchy at a Church Work Day

Brian announced in church that there would be a work day on Saturday and put out a list of things that needed to be done for people to sign up. Somewhere along the line, Ken and I got the idea that we were in charge of cooking breakfast before the work started. Then we found out that Tom and Rich were in charge of breakfast. So I wrote Tom to let him know that I’d help him, but he said he would be going out of town that day. Meantime, Rich, who hadn’t heard anything, said he’d be happy to head up breakfast, which was fine with us because he can put together wonderful meals in his sleep. Then he went to Costco and bought enough food for twice the number that eventually showed up—a week early. Oops.
Ken and I showed up at 6:30 to cook breakfast. No Rich. Neither of us had a key. Wait—didn’t we see a car come in? Sure enough, it was Tom, who opened the church, unlocked all the doors, and went on his way out of town.
We looked in the kitchen: no eggs, no bacon, no Bisquick, only frozen hash browns, and we didn’t know how those should be cooked. So we set up the tables and chairs. Then Rich showed up. He’d had to dig his wheelbarrow out of his shed for the work day.
Apart from Rich telling us how we should cook the eggs and bacon and hash browns, we pretty much worked in silence. Eventually everything was ready to eat, the people showed up, and the food got eaten—well, most of it.
Daniel and Kim had brought their kids, and while Daniel went to work on Brian’s to-do list, Kim and the girls cleaned up the kitchen while I struck the makeshift dining room. The kitchen crew discovered that half of the bacon had never been taken out of the oven and was now completely charred. Oops.
At that point, I had to leave to chase the buck, but as I drove off, I saw everyone hard at work—even the slight lady who first came to our church a few weeks ago and her son, who looked to be about six years old. And when I came to church the next morning, everything was shipshape.
No surprise. This is the way God designed the system.
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and be wise! Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. (Prov 6:6-8)
One of the greatest blessings of common grace, the goodness God bestows on everyone, his foes as well as his friends, is what I call the market: as an old song put it, “You must die to live / You must give to gain / You must lose to win.” A corollary of this is that people who desire a common goal will gladly work together to reach it. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a willing worker.
It is true that some people willingly work together to reach ungodly goals. Every person alive has probably done so at some point. This is why we need God’s wisdom—written in his Word and imparted by the Holy Spirit and godly counselors—to keep godly goals always before us.
It’s also true that some will pursue selfish ends instead of working for the common good.
But if a bunch of nobodies can whip a church facility into shape in a few hours without coercion and really without leadership that goes beyond setting the goals and teaching the ignorant how to reach them, there’s every reason to believe that the church can bring justice and prosperity to any society by peaceful means.
Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.”

If we are to see the knowledge of the glory of the Lord cover the earth like the water covers the seas, we need to live up to the name of Jacob, “the supplanter,” supplanting the coercive institutions of the state with voluntary, service-based institutions as individuals, families, churches, and larger societies. If we build a city on a hill that truly reflects Jesus, burned bacon and all, people will come and surrender to him, and if they don’t they will have no cause to charge us with mistreating our neighbors.

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