Columnist George Will, who espouses libertarian principles fairly consistently, wrote a recent piece on the funding of wars. His argument is that we should pay as we go by letting the people fund such conflicts more directly through special taxes. I have my doubts about his argument but in this same article he also referred to some very conservative Republicans not supporting their party’s nominee in 2008 if it is Mayor Rudy Guiliani. The threat of third party candidacies abound on both sides of the present political divide, with mention of New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg also entering the race as an independent. Even Lou Dobbs has been rumored as a candidate running on his protection of the border theme. But this is not my reason for citing George Will’s thoughts here.

Will adds that we should not "underestimate the the temptation to kick over their party’s furniture for the fun of it." This got me to thinking about many people in churches that I have known. They are very conservative (often) and thus want to bring about purity in doctrine and practice no matter what it takes. They are "willing to kick over . . . the furniture (so it seems) for the fun of it." Will adds, regarding such purists, "The pleasures of moral purity are available to those who fancy themselves a small church militant in an unconverted world."

"The pleasures of moral purity are available . . . to those who fancy themselves a small church militant in an unconverted world." Just insert the word church in the place of word world and you have an explanation for a great deal of what I have seen over thirty-five years in serving churches and consulting them as they deal with their various problems. A small minority usually wants to kick over some furniture in order to bring about purity!

Here’s the rub. We do need reformers and prophets to tell us what is wrong and to insist that change is needed. Without these kinds of people the Church will become lax and careless. But that phrase "the pleasures of moral purity" grabs me. Some people seem to delight in "kicking over the furniture" as much as in getting things right by remaining faithful to the relational truths of Christianity. This is a different matter altogether and a course that usually brings destruction and division more than reformation and biblical renewal. The difference is sometimes very slight (one of degree) but there is a truly huge difference in the end. One thing I do know—those who are prophetic will weep while they respond to the need for change. They get no thrills for making a mess.