The essential question about our spiritual journey is "Who do we Trust?" We can say we are trusting God, but our actions may show something else.
The easiest trap is to believe that because we are "doing something for" God or our church, our community or even "the good of the world" we are helping our salvation. God wants us to trust in Him. Our "good works" (the Jewish term is Mitzvahs) are something that should flow from our trust in God instead of being a way to "earn" his love.
There are many ways we can get distracted from focusing on God. Many of them occur in the context of a church or other place of worship. Sometimes we let our task become the most important thing and argue with other church members about how things should be done.
Yet, the workings of a house of worship are where we learn to practice love. The problem with every church or church hierarchy is the same: It is filled with human beings who have faults and issues. If we are truly following God’s direction, our time with our fellow sinners will give us more trust in God and a better understanding of His love for them.
There are many temptations outside of church which try to present themselves as an object of trust. Money, cars, homes, IRA’s and jobs can all be false sources of security. In tumultuous economic times it is easier to see how this security is false. Yet we want to cling to that hope.
There is another group which more actively competes to be our focus of trust. This is governments and politicians. Jesus’ famous direction to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s" becomes at some level a threat to Caeser.
It is becoming more obvious by the day that some political groups, from the local level to the international level are becoming more opposed to churches and traditional morality than they have ever been.
Robert Nisbet, in an out of print book called The Quest for Community, talks about the role of "intermediate associations" and how they cause problems for any political entity which seeks to totally control its citizens. These groups come between the individual and the state. They offer a different focus of loyalty. The two major "associations" are the family and the church, or other religious group.
In Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg talks about Otto von Bismarck and the German Catholic Church. Bismarck was a Prussian, from the Northern, largely Lutheran section of Germany. He was concerned that Catholics in Southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, would focus on the religious differences and delay the coming together of the German state. The German word Kulturkampf or what we call "Culture Wars" is part of this effort. It is an attempt to push the churches aside to prevent their interference with either the goals of the politicians or the loyalty of the people to the governing class.
Let me de direct. No political party or political leader can save us. The bible is clear:
(Psalm 146) "Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men in whom there is no salvation."
It is our duty as citizens to look into the various candidates, parties and programs and vote our best judgment about the better path. But no party or politician can save us. Heaven on Earth will not happen because someone is elected to or voted out of office.
Even if we are highly committed to a service group, a charity or any group trying to help the world, that group can’t save us.
We eventually realize that no person, group, policy or action will save us or protect us. It the end, when we tire of searching anywhere us, we can turn to the only One who can be trusted, God.