A reader writes to comment on the post titled More on the Right to Health Care. In that post I commented that when people are encouraged to turn to the church for their needs it benefits both them and the church in ways that government is simply unable to match. She writes:
...God provides support for those who trust in Him through His body of believers. This fosters gratitude and thankfulness because it is much easier to feel gratitude towards your brothers and sisters in Christ than the government.
I have experienced this personally. This summer my Dad fell from a ladder 25 feet and landed on his head. He miraculously survived, but his journey to recovery entailed critical care, rehab, surgery, and lots of money. Although our family of eight depended on his income, we were never in want through the whole time. Our church family surrounded us and took care of whatever needs we had. Our health care covered only a fraction of the medical expenses, but the church supplied the need. If the government had had complete control over our finances and health care, our family would have missed out on the biggest overflow of God's grace we have ever experienced.
The problem is that not everyone is a Christian who has this kind of support from a local body of believers. This is where the church can reach the world for Christ. They can supply the basic human needs that a government can never fulfill, and they can do it in a way that also supplies spiritual needs.
It is true, of course, that government has financial resources that churches cannot muster and that there's a role for government to play, but churches are much better positioned to give people what government cannot - love, concern, and life skills. They can, in the case of the poor, offer them training in the virtues necessary to get and keep a job and also help them to learn how to properly raise their children. The kind of help many people need today, and which churches are uniquely situated to provide, goes well beyond finances, but people will never seek out the church's assistance, and the church will never develop its full potential to do good in the community, if the government is at the doorstep with a check every time they need it.
I mentioned Marvin Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion in the previous post on this subject. It really is a book that should be read by everyone concerned with the poor and the best way to help them.RLC