I recall a section of Booker T. Washington’s book ‘Up from Slavery’, where he highlights the immediate aftermath of the abolishment of the slave trade in the American south.
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Many black slaves, like long term inmates just released, did not know how to exercise their new freedoms after years of being told what to do.
“The great responsibility of being free, of having charge of themselves, of having to think and plan for themselves and their children, seemed to take possession of them. It was very much like suddenly turning a youth of ten or twelve years out into the world to provide for himself... freedom was a more serious thing than they had expected to find it.”
They were a disempowered people ill prepared for the new world. The slave had lost the ability to self govern due to years of un-wilfully “outsourcing”, and even the masters lost the important life skills of manual labour due to outsourcing to his slaves.
I would like to highlight the disempowerment that comes with outsourcing responsibilities that ought not to be. Firstly what does outsourcing mean? It’s basically a way to obtain goods or services from an outside supplier or source. Outsourcing in itself is quite a good thing especially for a business man. The successful entrepreneur will tell you it’s an effective and efficient way of getting things done. But even the business man considers what can be outsourced (E.g. production of goods) and what can not be outsourced (E.g. business vision and strategy). To outsource the hands may be efficient, but to outsource the heart may mean the death of the enterprise.
In the Kingdom, the government deals with the heart of the King; in that its purpose is to see the authorities will or law manifest. The Ekklesia as an assembly form a governmental entity concerned with seeing the will of the King established in a given territory. At least this is supposed to be the business of the Ekklesia. Today this responsibility does not extend beyond reciting the prayer “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, uttered without connecting the dots to its practical outworking. The religious service has offered us a routine to keep us busy but NOT occupied with the Father's business. It has nurtured us for life in the pond whilst the father is concerned with the ocean. We sing, dance and clap in our clubs and hardly sit in council to discern His will and the strategies and policies required to see them realised in our communities.
But government, I mean even the literal term “government” strikes many believers as a worldly term. “Government? that’s what they do”. It’s not uncommon to hear a well read brother regurgitating the words “I believe in the separation of church and state”, and not considering that we are a royal people a holy state. Others feel strongly that we should be engaged in the democratic system, perhaps to convert the country Christ-wards. This position tends to lean heavily on a foreign system (democracy) as a means for realising the King’s will. The King of kings operates through a theocratic administration, not the centralised parliament of Westminster but the decentralised local assembly (Ekklesias). “What, are you saying we are kind of like a governmental type thingymajig?”. Yes, we are His elect assembly, His parliament, His house of representatives (1 Tim 3:15), co heirs (Rom 8:17) and the mandate to govern still stands (Gen 1:26). Unfortunately we have outsourced this responsibility in thought, word and deed. Consider the following questions:
Thought: Do you think the business of governing belongs to the Caesar types, professional politicians?
Word: Do you feel the term “government” isn’t suitable or spiritual enough to describe godly affairs?
Deed: Do you aim to affect Christ centred change in society by petitioning your local MP, voting and other democratic channels?
If you answered yes to all three, perhaps you, like most of Christendom, are most likely suffering from the comfortable but disempowered position that results from outsourcing government. We have become irresponsible and look to others to do the work for us. It’s probably more accurate to say we have even forgotten the responsibility of government, a mandate given to us by the Lord. When a nation outsources the responsibility of “self governance it runs the risk of losing its identity, sovereignty and stature. It forgets how to legislate and be responsible for its own affairs and ultimately loses its standing amongst other nations. We can source from colonial examples of once prospering nations, and how the quality of citizenship downgrades once abandoned by former colonial masters. Some nations absent of government altogether, due to some upheaval, have spiralled into failed states. On this matter of government much of our communities can be described as failures. And the side-effects of our outsourcing are manifest in a disenfranchised, disengaged and disempowered people:
1. Disenfranchised, by NOT having a judicial structure (in keeping with theocratic administration) by which the business of government (for example, binding and loosing) is best exercised beyond the confines of church.
2. Disengaged by religious activities and services whilst ignoring the Kings priority of expanding governance.
3. Disempowered by producing immature members unable to stand in a hostile world, instead of citizens of stature. Producing a people conditioned to look to foreign governments as a means of realising the King’s will. And producing an assembly unable to speak with one coherent prophetic voice that impacts culture.
A fourth ‘D’ would ultimately be ‘disqualified’ from representing our Lord as a collective. How have we let the business of government become an alien concept? It’s so fundamental to the healthy formation of the Ekklesia. Let us pray for light on this matter, repent where convicted and rediscover government.