My finishing thought yesterday was "What if the Church gave in such a way that it made a significant difference? What would the world look like?"
Or more fundamentally, could we change the way government functions as we know it?
The Church has one mission; to proclaim Christ crucified and resurrected. To do this it has three methods: witness of the Word, witness of our lives, and witness of our actions.
Of these three, the Word or lives would be considered easier by most - it is easy for most (not necessarily me) to preach the Word or to work on being more holy. It is the witness of our actions, however, that can often be the most difficult - but the thing that the world pays attention to most.
There are arguably many reasons for the growth of government many sectors including the social (which, of course per my policy, we will not handle here). But is is possible to contemplate that part of the reason that the government entered charity in the first place was that the Church was failing in its mission to accomplish it?
Governments since time immemorial have engaged in periodic care of the needy - witness Rome and the "panem et circensus (bread and circuses)" or its price control of grain. This has probably stemmed as much from a desire to avoid instability as a desire to assist - or in some unfortunate circumstances, a desire to control.
Christians should be different. Our motivation should not be for stability or control or perhaps even to assist (noble as it is) but rather the share the love of Christ in a tangible fashion, to do the good that God tells us He wants us to do.
Am I saying that the people in government who handle such things are evil or controlling? No. They are doing a job. But more fundamentally I am asking if the job they are doing is something that Christians should be doing - not to put them our of work but for us to live our calling.
Could this be done in short order? Of course not. And calls to simply halt things always end at the same place: that no-one will step in to fill the gap. And too often that is a legitimate complaint against Christianity. So it will take time: time for us to practice giving in larger and larger ways, time for us to build credibility as people who will always do what we say will do. This is a long term goal, probably longer than any of our lifetimes.
But who knows - if the Church were sincerely to engage in this activity, to really make an effort, would God not intervene in our behalf?
Funny thing - He says in such situations He will.
So let us get with it. Start somewhere. But never be satisfied with less when we can do more.