Is the church a watchdog or a lapdog in relation to our culture? There is a vast difference between the two. A watchdog is “the conscience of the culture” that challenges us when we stray from the core values of our culture. A lapdog merely goes along with the decisions the culture makes and as long as it is taken care of, petted and remains comfortable in the lap of the culture will do nothing to change anything.
Everytime I read the newspaper or watch TV News I am reminded of our culture’s problems. To name a few major problems: healthcare for the poor, lack of jobs and livable wages for the working poor, lack of ethics and basic honesty in politics and business, devaluing of human life. Let me state a few examples:
- In Kansas, our stade leaders have apparently opted not to extend the Medicaid program that is part of Obamacare and would be paid for by the federal government to over 150,000 persons in this state. This is a program that will not cost the state and is backed by hospitals and medical associations statewide as providing healthcare to a large number of people who presently can’t afford it and of creating a large number of jobs to boost the economy of Kansas. The main reason given is a political one—-it’s part of Obamacare that Republicans are pledge to defeat one way or another. The same is true of the problem of not creating insurance centers to help the poor get insurance. Our infant morality rate in Kansas is one of the highest in the country due to lack of care for expectant mothers who are poor. Human beings—men, women, children, are dying in our state through lack of medical and psychiatric care. Hundreds of children go to bed hungry every night. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and heard it on the streets of Hutchinson, Ks. from homeless and needy people.
Where is the church of Jesus Christ speaking to this problem and reminding our leaders that the way we are going is not the way of Jesus who commanded us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”? I hear only silence from the church! Watchdog or lapdog for the culture?
- The working poor are those who can only find jobs that pay minimum wage or less and are part-time so employers don’t have to pay for health insurance. These workiing poor include many families where both mother and father work but are still unable to pay the rent and provide adequate food and medical care for their families and themselves.
Who speaks up for the working poor to those in power who want to abolish the Affordable Health Care Act, not extend Medicaid in Kansas, and block any rise to the minimum wage that might give them a decent living they work so long and hard to provide for their families? Who? The church? Again, I hear only silence!! Is the church a watchdog or a lapdog?
- When those running for office attack each other viciously and tell lies about their opponent and spend millions spreading those lies in the media in order to win elective office and then do nothing to improve the common good while in office—who holds them accountable?
Who exposes these lies and viciousness and holds those responsible for them accountable for what they say? Who speaks up and condemns theses lies and indecencies and holds ttheir perpetrators accountable? The church? Silence again!! Watchdog or lapdog?
Our culture is an increasingly unhealthy one to live in for a growing number of poor people and increasing for what used to be the middle class. From the personal level to the national level we have lost our moral compass—our conscience, our sense of right and wrong, good and evil. We have forgotten our neighbors are children of God and that life is of value.
It is time for Christians to step forward and be the conscience of our nation! We have remained silent too long and by our silence have allowed these things to happen and in some cases have even promoted them. When we fail to challenge decisions from the personal to the national level with a word from God as revealed by Jesus the Christ we become a part of the problem—-lapdogs! As long as we are comfortable ourselves we won’t get involved. The problem with this is that it violates completely the Great Commandment that Jesus gives in Matthew that summarizes the law and the prophets and the mission for his followers: “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself!
Richard Rohr says it well in his introduction to the Enneagram: “When religion is the conscience of society instead of its lapdog, culture is also healthy.” (p. xvii Enneagram)