I have been reading When the Church Was a Family, a book by Joseph H. Hellerman about the American Church’s need to regain its family solidarity. He says we American Christians are too individualistic in our attitudes and decisions, not caring about the effects of those decisions on the church body. We need to return to the church-family-first ethics taught by Jesus and Paul.
Hellerman wrote that a major reason people of the Roman Empire flocked to the faith was that Christians cared not only for their own poor but also for outsiders’ poor. To me, this is at least a partial answer to how the Church can help today’s poor and needy.
Today’s economic catastrophes are due to government interference in the marketplace. The IRS taxes the rich and gives wealth to the poor who don’t earn it. The Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates as a throttle on the money supply…and prints valueless dollars as well. Excessive government regulations stifle invention and the creation of business. And now, a shut-down government interferes with private business for political points.
What is needed is a totally free (but not laissez-faire) market. Government needs to be limited to punishing murder, theft, fraud, and such. It might do well to become a source of information and guidance (but not a regulatory force) about goods, services, and practices in the marketplace. The economic decisions of free buyers will regulate the behaviors of sellers.
We must also recognize that “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.” Some people are simply unable, unwilling, or lacking in opportunities to make much wealth.
The Church (and other faith organizations) and families – not the government – are responsible to help the poor and needy. In the Old Testament, Yahweh commanded His people to help widows and orphans. In the New Testament, Paul instructed the churches to support their brothers in the faith who were in need.
With the government out of the charity business and out of the marketplace, taxpayers will have more wealth to spend on goods and services of the market, thus increasing the economy. People will have more wealth for investment and job creation. They will have more wealth to voluntarily share with the poor and needy. The economy will increase as poverty decreases.
Members of faith organizations will have more resources. Churches will be better able to help decreasing numbers of poor and needy members. Families will be better able to help their own relatives.
This will help bring increase to God’s Kingdom. People will see how the churches help those in need and will flock to take part in the love demonstrated. Yahweh will be honored and His rulership will be acknowledged more and more.