Summary: One of the greatest indictments against modern evangelical Christians today, is that we are like a bunch of grumpy old men; marked by pessimism and more interested in pushing political agendas and in winning intellectual arguments than in offering a unive
One of the greatest indictments against modern evangelical Christians today, is that we are like a bunch of grumpy old men; marked by pessimism and more interested in pushing political agendas and in winning intellectual arguments than in offering a universal vision of hope and working to change individual lives.
Increasingly, many of my Christian friends and family members seem to be "as mad as hell" about the state of our world and committed to not taking it anymore. This might not be an altogether bad thing, except that it is very often coupled with the belief that the world is a lost cause anyway. Most seem committed to the idea that taking the books of Daniel and Revelation seriously requires us to believe that the world is only going to get worse and worse until Jesus finally comes back to put a halt the zombie apocalypse. Worse yet, those who do believe that there is some hope for the world seem to see it most clearly through a political lens. It’s as if the platform positions of the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green or some other political party ought to be taken as seriously as the Gospel of John.
Brothers and Sisters…these things ought not to be!
We are called to be people of the gospel…people of good news. People preaching hope…people preaching compassion…people preaching peace…we are called to be possibility people, but have failed miserably in our calling. Today, even the term “preaching” has become associated more with self-righteous moralizing and judgementalism than with the liberating proclamation that “with God, all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26)
Jesus said that other people would know us by our love for one another (John 13:35), but we are constantly and increasingly in danger of being known only by who and what we oppose. This is a serious problem for the modern church…very serious…most serious…and it is because of the grave seriousness of this problem that I must strongly suggest that we learn to take it lightly.
I’m serious…deadly serious: If we are to become the people that God wants us to be…a city on a hill and the light of the world (Matt. 5:14), then we have got to, seriously, lighten-up. We’ve got to stop believing and acting like every little challenge to our traditional ways of thinking and behaving is the end of the world. Even if something comes along that’s not a little challenge, especially when we are faced with big world-changing challenges, we need to recognize that no amount of cynicism, belligerence, or belly-aching will do anything to make a significant difference. If it could, God might have stopped with Jeremiah rather than with Jesus…with prophesying judgment rather than proclaiming peace.
Too often we meet the perceived challenges and threats of the secular world by building walls of defensive doctrines and raising the gates of reactive rules-keeping. We forget that Paul taught that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)
Ours is a kingdom of righteousness, absolutely, but it is no less a kingdom of peace and joy. There has, as of late, been many discussions about right and wrong and about warfare and peace…these are important discussions…serious discussions…but I must ask, someone must ask...what of joy? How right is righteousness or peaceful is peace, if there is no joy? Is it really salvation if the person who receives it becomes more anxious and angry and afraid?
I’m afraid that there are too many Christians who just aren’t sure. …Seriously!
I think this is exactly why Mark Twain could recommend going “to Heaven for the climate, and Hell for the company.”
Joyless Christianity is an oxymoron and anyone who tells you otherwise is plainly the simple kind. (…think about it…it’ll come to you.)
It is commonly believed that 1 Thessalonians is the oldest writing in our New Testament. In the last chapter of that epistle, chapter five, the Apostle Paul goes through a litany of things that are significant for a vital Christian faith. Beginning in verse eleven:
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.