A New Chance for The Church

Posted on November 12, 2016 by

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Right now in america there is a divide. Well there are more than one divide but right now it has become increasingly clear that we are not as united as we once thought. Throughout this most recent election cycle our personal preferences have been pandered to and used to elicit strong emotional responses.

It’s not hard to see how politicians and their campaign managers saw this as a good and effective way to grow their support base. We have news channels that are clearly biased to a specific worldview, we have social networks that tailor what we see to fit what we value and what we respond to, and we live lives that are less and less connected to people unlike ourselves ( we work far away from where we live, we live among people like ourselves because it feels comfortable, and we go to church far away from our homes because it’s the one that “feels right” ). Out of a self-segregated, self-contained life we were given candidates that “fit” our sense of self.

If that last paragraph seemed to contain a lot of “self”ing that’s because it did. One of the rising critiques coming out in the days post election is that we haven’t and aren’t listening to each other. Or that if we are it is only listening to respond not listening to understand.  Because of this there is now a rhetoric surrounding politics, theology, and culture that is toxic. We think of, and talk about, those who believe differently as evil, stupid, or subhuman. This kind of dehumanization of people has a cyclical effect, especially in the echo chambers we have created, the more we refer to someone in a dehumanizing way, the more we think of them that way, which makes it easier to talk about them in a dehumanizing way, etc…

It is in this self-centered, echo chamber culture that the church has a chance to step up into mission we have been given by God.

The mission of the church is best expressed by the great commission.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

The mission we have been given as disciples of Christ is to go and make disciples of Christ, educated in God’s word and obedient to the commands of Christ who make more disciples (the command just given).

Throughout history this has been the underlying focus of the church. At times we get distracted or corrupted, but some movement/event comes along to reorient the heart of the church on those in darkness that needed the light of Christ.

With that goal in mind we strive for obedience to what God has called us to be and do.

It is in through this striving that I see part of our current political divide.

On the political right I see Christians who value obedience to the moral commands of scripture to be holy and try to legislate what only the Holy Spirit can enable us to do, be obedient to God.

On the political left I see Christians who value obedience to the social commands of scripture to care for the lost, broken, and needy and try to legislate what should be the work of the local church.

These two things,  being holy as He is holy, and the true worship of caring for widows and orphans, are parts of the same whole of discipleship.

So here is the opportunity that we have as the Church. In a culture so divided, with a government poised to show how both of those christian political ambitions are doomed to be fruitless*, the Church can step into who we are supposed to be. Those who care for our neighbors, neighborhoods, and nation, who have strive for a holistic morality that is beyond reproach. A bridge in this divided culture, an imperfect image of the Kingdom of God, a home for those lost, broken, tired, sinful, mess of people just like us.

*I say that our government is poised to show both of these ambitions fruitless because we have elected to give the majority in the house and senate and to give the presidency the party that historically does not value as highly the social entitlements that care for the poor, the broken, and the other. And as there is now a higher likelihood of legislation that attempts to put into law Christian morality we will see how much we rely on the Holy Spirit to enable us to be obedient to these things.

Without the Holy Spirit our obedience to God’s commands is

  1. an impossible task
  2. a bringer of pride at our own righteousness
  3. a false sense of salvation by our works
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