How do we make government smaller? Is it simply a matter of putting it on a diet or a budget? If we enforce laws that limit expenditures and growth, will that be enough?
I don't think so. I think we are getting exactly the government we deserve. Self-sufficiency and community have gone the way of the dodo bird. Instead of looking to friends, families and neighbors for a helping hand, we look to the State House or Washington instead.
And it's worse than that. Friends, families and neighbors frequently aren't there to help. How many of your neighbors do you know in a 2 block radius? There are ~60 families in our subdivision, and I know less than half of them. I know more people at my office than I do in my subdivision. As a society, we have crawled into holes and then pulled them in after us. We have rolled up our sidewalks, not just after 10:00 PM but all day long.
What happened to community block parties? What happened to gaggles of kids chasing each other throughout the neighborhood all day long? What happened to the days of getting home from school, dropping the backpack just inside the door and disappearing until mom called you in for dinner (and by called, I mean literally hollered from the front porch, not sent you an SMS)?
If we want to make government smaller, I think we have to make society bigger, and especially our churches. While government does overreach and inject itself where it's not needed, a lot of the intrusions start innocently, because there is a need to fill. Naturally, government thinks it can fill that need best. But what if the need was already being met, was not going unfulfilled? Then there is no impetus for government to act.
So, to make government smaller, we have to remove the need for government to act. How do we do that? We meet the needs of those around us, both physically and spiritually. Get involved in community outreach through your church. Donate food to the food bank and articles of clothing to the clothing closet. Volunteer in a soup kitchen. Get involved in clean-up teams.
And guess what? The size of the church doesn't determine how big it is. A 4,000 member megachurch that never steps outside its walls is a hovel. The 200 year old church with 50 faithful attenders that runs a soup kitchen is like a mansion. The size of the church doesn't matter as to its impact. And churches can partner together in ministry, even across denominational lines.
In short, we cannot in good conscience complain about the size and reach of the government when we ourselves are not doing everything we can to remove the need for their involvement. Hilary Clinton was right all those years ago. It does take a village. But it takes a village free of government intrusion and control.
To make the government smaller, we have to get up off our couches, get into our community, and get involved. Not because the government has told us to, but because it's what we should do as friends and neighbors, as members of a community. Because it's what God has called us to do.