|ACK IN MY youth there was a gentleman known throughout the state of Kansas as the Rev. Richard Taylor. His organization, "Kansans for Life at its Best," sought to stand against the liberalization of the state's gambling and liquor laws.|
My father, of the same moral persuasion, lost his seat after three terms as a state legislator over the issues that Taylor sought to influence. The other day I was reminded of a lunch my dad had with the Rev. Taylor.
One day in the cafeteria of the Kansas State House, my dad sat down with Taylor and they began to discuss the issues facing the legislature. In the midst of their conversation, Dad asked, "Who in this state votes for things like liquor by the drink, pari-mutuel gambling, and the lottery?" Rev. Taylor knew well the demographics of those issues.
Taylor said, "Think interstates." I-35 cutting up the east side of the state, I-70 cutting across the long middle -- those were the keys. All counties bordering those eight lanes voted for more gambling. Those not bordering the interstates, with almost no exceptions, didn't.
My dad said, "The world runs through it." Yes -- and it tends to contaminate everything it touches.
Which is why the Church and the Kingdom of God were established. Not as a geographical empire, but as a people who are called to "run through it."
Run through their neighborhoods with kindness and love.
Run through their businesses with faithfulness and wise counsel.
Run through their schools with holy direction and the courage to make truth known.
Run through the prisons, the inner cities, the hospices, the abortion clinics, the places of war with messages of hope, offers of compassion, hearts that mourn.
Run through the corridors of power with voices of justice and the anticipation of righteous reconciliation.
And here's the key. The Church does some of its best work after "the world has run through it." In Kansas (since the liberalization of gambling and drinking) and in my casino-giddy home of Mississippi, for the last several years it has been the people of God who care enough to do something about gambling addiction and the broken families and shattered dreams that result from it. It is the people of God who fight hard against alcoholism and drug addiction and a hundred other ills that result from sin-friendly legislation. It is the Church that helps women make good choices with their pregnancies and is there for those who don't.
It is the Church -- the Church that runs through life with the cross and Christ -- that makes all the difference.
Matt Friedeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary. Respond to this column at his blog at "EvangelismToday.blogspot.com."
More columns by Matt Friedeman