I walked by the Muller orphan houses today (they’re on my way to the grocery store). When I first got to Bristol I wanted to find them SO BADLY, and then ended up passing them several times before stopping one night and realizing that those massive buildings I kept walking past were in fact the long-sought orphan houses. I missed them, I think, because they look so modern. They’re clean and well-appointed and gracious buildings, and VAST. They don’t look like they were build nearly 200 years ago. Yet they still stand as a testament to the power of prayer and simple faith. The houses that God built.
I think that one of the main reasons George Muller was so successful was because his aim, first and foremost, was to give God the glory and demonstrate to people that He is trustworthy. It wasn’t just to help orphans, nor to “do the Lord’s work,” but to do that work in a way that gave glory only to the Lord. I feel like modern Christianity frequently (certainly not always) lacks that critical motivation. We are good at helping people. We love to start charities and give to the poor and serve the homeless, and frequently we’ll spread the gospel, in a quiet way, as we go. But shhh, on the front the organization mustn’t be overtly Christian, or it will scare people off. It’s not that we’re ashamed, exactly, it’s just that we feel we’ll be more successful in our society if the Christian aspect of the work isn’t emphasized. Please don’t get me wrong, I love how much Christians love to help people and I am so aware of and thankful for the amazing work these people and organizations do. They do a lot of good, help a lot of people, even bring a lot of people into the family of God. But not on a Muller scale.
It took So. Much. Trust. So much courage, so much confidence for that project to succeed. I can’t even imagine being confident enough in a venture like that to begin it. I can’t imagine starting up a business and refusing to ask for investors, trusting God to provide all my needs, and TELLING THE WORLD that was what I was doing. I would be scared that some step along the line would fail, and I would be humiliated, my God given a bad name. I won’t even preach healing all the time, because I’m just not sure it will happen this time, and I don’t want to promise something only to have it fail someone. But I bet if I had the courage to make the claim with confidence, I would get to watch God come through over and over again. I wish we, I wish I had the confidence in Him to proclaim “This is God’s work,” and then watch Him show off. God, help me get there.
There was an election in the UK on Thursday, and the conservative party won, so Bristol is currently in mourning. I swear, it’s as bad (possibly worse) than being in Hawaii when Trump was elected. And, since I have no actual skin in the game, it’s slightly funny. (Although, sadly, the conservative party produces a much stronger pound 😦 Goodbye, nice exchange rate!) The response from most of my Christian friends and contacts was immediate (and slightly panicked) prayer. I love that prayer was the immediate response, but the note of desperation puzzles me. It was the same way in America during election time. Both sides convinced that if their party didn’t win, THE WHOLE COUNTRY WOULD COME CRASHING DOWN. (It didn’t. Although, I guess, there are some who would insist it did.) My question to Christians is this: if God is our sufficiency and Christ our king, then does it really matter? It’s not a rhetorical question; I’d really like to consider this deeper. But it seems to me that Jesus didn’t give a fig about government.
The government he was born under was the Roman empire. Not an ideal time and place to live. Yet, I can’t find in my Bible a single place where he tried to affect any change within it, or even speak against it. He encouraged citizens to pay their taxes. He hung out with tax collectors. One of the few Gentiles he interacted with was a Roman centurion, whose servant he healed and whose faith he marveled at. In fact, he POINTEDLY ignored the state of the government. I say pointedly, because every single Jew who thought he was the Messiah was expecting him to overthrow the Roman government and take his place as king. Even the apostles. Even after he had died and risen. Still asking when he was gonna take on the government. *facepalm* YET HE DID NOT. His was a bigger government, a bigger kingdom. He focused on the people in front of him. He preached and taught and healed and loved and started a movement (known as Christianity) that is billions strong today. Without ever legislating a thing.
It comes back around to confidence in Him. We look at the state of the world around us and see the poor, the homeless, the broken and get mad at a government that isn’t helping them. That is, in fact, the job of a government, so I DO understand the anger and disappointment. But that doesn’t mean these people can’t be helped. Why should they go un-helped when they have God’s people, equipped with His power, living among them? It’s hard to know what to do. I know that. I walk past so many people in need every day and I have no idea how to help them. One way, certainly, is to work toward a government that will serve them well. They’ll get off the streets, get a roof over their head, a job, an affordable home. Will they meet Christ? Maybe. Will God get the glory? Doubt it. Another way is to decide to be Mullers. He single-handedly changed what orphan care in the UK and around the world looked like. He gave thousands upon thousands homes and an understanding of the love of Christ. He gave millions of Christians more confidence in a God who answers prayers. And he gave God ALL the glory.
I know it’s easy to be the one shouting for change and it’s a fair question to ask, “Well, what are YOU doing about it?” I pray every day for the courage and insight and wisdom to be one of those people. I pray for the faith it requires to see big dreams become big realities with God. It’s hard to know where or how to begin. But I know that God is big enough to come through for us as we ask. So, Christians, let’s take heart. Where the government fails, God is faithful. Where the government falls short, God is has unlimited power and cattle on a thousand hills. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us. Maybe it’s a chance for a generation of Mullers to rise up. Maybe this is the time to let GOD take on the task of being our sufficiency and give HIM the glory. Maybe as we lose faith in government we can place it more fully in God. Maybe that’s the whole point. Whatever the case may be, it can never, ever hurt to trust God more.