I often hear from people some variation of a general theme: namely “the church doesn’t work” or “government doesn’t work” or “marriage doesn’t work.”
I’m sorry but I don’t agree.
These institutions were created by God, and as His gifts, they are all good. The problem then is not the church, government, or family, the problem is the way that sinful humans “do” church, government, and family. We assume we can safely ignore their Creator’s instructions and change, abuse, ignore, add to, or remove whatever components we want or expect them to do things they were never intended to, or not do the things they were intended to, and then we are surprised when they “don’t work.”
If someone told you that lawnmowers “didn’t work” and upon further inquiry you discovered that they’d filled theirs with Maple Syrup would you assume that the problem was with lawn mowers? Or if someone told you their personal trainer at the health club “didn’t work” because they expected him to fix their marriage and he hadn’t, would you conclude that personal trainers were useless? Or if someone told you that their book club “didn’t work, and you discovered theirs was filled with people who couldn’t read and didn’t want to learn, would you conclude book clubs were a bad idea?
And yet people do the same kinds of things with the church, government, and marriage, and then complain that the institutions themselves have failed.
I’d like to suggest a different approach. Instead of assuming the lawn mower doesn’t work because it doesn’t run on maple syrup, how about we follow the manual and use gasoline instead? Or how about expecting personal trainers to help us to get physically fit and leaving the marriage counseling to pastors and marriage counselors? Or how about when we are forming a book club we make literacy and an interest in reading books a minimum requirement for joining? I strongly believe that at the end of the day, while cutting grass, getting fit, fixing your marriage, or having informed discussion will still require effort, lawn mowers, personal trainers, counselors, and book clubs will work.
The same is true of the church, marriage, and government. While those institutions will never be perfect this side of glory (and I’m sorry if that comes as a shock) if we will simply read and follow their Creator’s instructions found in the bible, we’ll find that while they all require effort they will work when it comes to accomplishing the things they were intended for.