“Preach the word!” 2 Tim. 4:2
It looks as though we are about to witness another impasse between those that want to tax the rich to give to the poor and those that think the rich are being taxed enough. My own perspective is that perhaps we have been putting our hope in the wrong social institution for many years now. I am thinking that trusting in the government to be the chief catalyst for social change has been extremely naive. Facing problems like disintegrating marriages and families, child neglect and abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, exploding school dropout rates, and the rest of the diverse social ills that plague us, we seem to have no better plan than a government program. If we are lucky, these governmental social programs only consume a large share of our financial resources and are singularly ineffective. Alas, they often actually worsen the very problem they were designed to solve.
I would prefer to put my trust in a different institution. To be very precise, the institution to which I would like to turn is the pulpit. Here is my conception of how it works. From the pulpit, the word of God is preached – hopefully with sincerity, passion and conviction. The word is like seed. It is scattered by the preacher and lands in various kinds of soils. Some of it, like any other seed, never sprouts at all or, if it does sprout, it does not last. But some of it produces a bountiful harvest– thirty, sixty or even a hundredfold. When the seed takes root, it accomplishes a metamorphosis–the very kind of change that the government program hopes to produce.
First, the person in whom the seed has taken root has a changed mind. He knows his purpose and it is an inspiring and encouraging one. Having been delivered from thinking he is the center of everything and that he should grab everything he can while he can, his prior despair and emptiness is replaced with a fountain of hope. He finds himself not only willing, but even desiring to serve rather than to be served.
He also has a changed heart. Having been made aware not only of his sinfulness, but also of the unfathomable compassion that has been shown to him by a God who has no sin whatsoever, he is undone. He is humbled. Strangely though, he is not only humbled, he is also exalted. The price paid by God for him unmistakably confirms his worth. He wants to sing and dance and shout because he was dead, but has now been raised to new life in Christ. He is a new creation.
As the seed of the word planted in him spreads its roots, he builds families–functional ones. He loves his wife, his children and his neighbor. He lives sacrificially. He gives. He is dependable and reliable. He works hard and obeys the law. He faces life with faith and courage. He is the kind of person upon which healthy societies are built.
He is one more thing. He is the fruit of the word and the key distinctive of fruit is that it has seeds within itself. He passes on not only to his neighbors but to the next generation what he has received. Having been produced by the sowing of seed, he becomes a sower of more seed.