From Jim O'Brien
September 1, 2017

Hi Friend,

Suicide By Government

Is there a law somewhere that says men in power should destroy those who do good works?

In the 1st century when Christianity was just beginning, the first converts were filled with enthusiasm and confidence. The Spirit of God was with them and miracles were happening frequently. Peter and the other apostles were preaching. Lives were changed. Miraculous healings took place such as has not been done since.

"As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed." (Acts 5:15-16 NIV)

Jerusalem was a major city, so word spread and people from all around the city brought an afflicted relative or friend to town. They waited on the street where Peter was expected to walk and looked for his arrival. At first sight of him they moved the litter holding the terminally ill person in such a place that at least his shadow would pass over the person. And they weren't disappointed. The sick were healed and returned home to tell others.

The swelling public opinion caused the men in power to do what men in power often do. Verse 18 says "Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail."

Now I understand jealousy, but arresting men because they are healing sick people is beyond imagination.

I would like to think that these men were of a generation far removed from ours and could not exist in this world. But events of the past few years make me think differently. Steve Forbes recently reported that 90 percent of the businesses in Egypt are illegal. How could such a thing happen? Are the Egyptian people worse than citizens of other nations? No, but like all men, Egyptians who gain power fail to understand the concept of limited government.

Egypt, even more than other states, has governmental bureaucracy, red tape....and corruption. Starting a business in America may take a couple of days but the same process takes two to three years in Egypt. In addition there are so many government officials that must be bribed the burden becomes overwhelming.

Most people start a business on a shoestring. The added costs of governmental bureaucracy and corruption can strangle the effort.

But a man needs to feed his family and provide food and shelter, so he offers his skills to perform a service, receives payment and never tells the government. It's illegal. In America we call it taking money under the table.

But the irony of this is what it does to the Egyptian economy. After all, how does a man keep the government from finding out about his business? Simple-the business must stay small enough that the government won't notice it. Think of that. A business must purposely avoid success to keep operating.

Egypt has found the perfect way to destroy its own economy. When 90 percent of a nation's businesses operate illegally to avoid the government, it becomes such an epidemic that the government can't stop it for fear of an entire collapse of the infrastructure. What a shame. A national government destroys the opportunity for its own citizens to make a living and in the process reduces tax revenues.

Consider the Pharisees of Jesus' day that lacked the power to heal but wanted to stop the citizen's from going to Jesus who could heal. Jesus lamented about them "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them." (Matt. 23:13 NRSV)

Twenty-first century Christians have fallen into the same pit. The politics of organized churches often takes precedence over good deeds. But doing so is a form of church suicide. It kills the spirit of sincere Christians who desire nothing more than to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. The choice is to obey God or the Church.

People are leaving the organized churches in droves. Downtown mainstream Christian buildings have a trickle leaving services while charismatic independent groups are building sanctuaries to hold the thousands. As in Egypt, many Christians have to avoid the Pharisees to do their good deeds.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien