Not too long ago, I had opportunity to be involved in a conference put on by a non-profit organization whose purpose is “mobilizing pastors and churches to win the war on Christianity.” As I sat back and took in this conference, it was easy to see that there are people who firmly believe that they are loosing their religious freedoms here in this country. I’ve commented before on the cultural wars that some feel are overtaking our country and this seemed to be a continuation of, and in fact an expansion of, that “war.” Some of my dearest friends are fervant believers in this war and so for me, it’s not easy to just write this phenomenom off as some right-wing nut job agitation as some are quick to do
But as I’ve watched speaker after speaker decry this war and literally break our world into an us-against-them kind of thing, I have grown increasingly uncomfortable. And, I’ve begun to see some strange correlations to rather unsavory characters in our world today.
In the scriptures we are told to “follow peace with all men” and I’ve begun to wonder how declaring a war squares with that injunction. But it also leaves me with a bit of a quandry. Do we turn a blind eye to supposed wickedness in others because we are trying to “follow peace” and what really is the Christians role in dictating a non-believer’s actions?
As much as some want to believe that the answer to that is black and white, I can’t agree and sign on to actions that go against the scriptures. Jesus Christ said that if He be lifted up He would draw all men unto Him. Perhaps that’s why the church is having problems today with a world that is busy living opposed to the message of the Cross. Could it be that we are too busy pointing out what we feel is wrong with the world? Have we forgotten that when we lift up Christ, not our notions of what Christ should be, that He will do what He has promised? Have we forgotten that how we treat other people is how we should expect to be treated? Have we moved so far away from the message of grace that the Cross of Christ so brilliantly illustrates that we view people who live in grace as being weak? I see people every day who need the message of grace in their lives but all they receive from Christians is a message of condemnation…and war.
More than anything, I wonder if we have moved so far away from the message of grace so beautifully laid out in the scriptures that we risk loosing our moorings all together. Have some Christians become so obssessed with sin in everyone else’s lives that they’ve excused certain behaviors in themselves because the end justifies the means? I witnessed a lady recently who found out that her son was gay. She’s a Christian who is faithful to her church and her beliefs. But on finding out about her son, she engaged in all out war that included bearing false witness against him to many people. She also ended up destroying her relationship with her son. How is that Christ-like I wondered?
In fact, I wonder how Christ would respond if he came back today. Would He say to these Christian leaders who are trying to manufacture this supposed “culture” war “oh you generation of vipers”? Would He draw a comparison between the leaders today and the religious leaders of His day who stood on the street corner thanking God they were better than the lowly unbeliever? Jesus had such harsh words for those people.
And what about pursing peace? I know, I know! Peace is such a curse world in Christendom today. It doesn’t fit in with the war terminology that has become tantamount to being a Christian. Peace is kicked to the curb and in its place justification for our culture war is offered, even scriptural justification. It all sounds so familiar to the religious leaders in some Middle Eastern countries who issue fatwa’s or jihads against those who don’t follow their beliefs. Heck, in Afghanistan we’ve seen a recent example of the nature of this with hardliners wanting to execute someone because of his conversion to Christ. If we follow this war that these people wish to stoke, are we putting our country on a similar path?
I don’t have an answer! I’m perplexed! I do know that as the church moves further and further from the love described in I Corinthians 13 and continues to disenfranchise people from the gospel of Christ by behaving rudely, acting in an arrogant manner and constantly trying to provoke other people we will witness an escalation of hostilities. I don’t expect people who don’t follow the teachings of Christ to act in keeping with His teachings. I do hold myself to that standard though and I think all Christians should. Perhaps we wouldn’t have need for war if believers in Christ actually followed His teachings. In Ephesians chapter 2 we read of a Christ who is “rich in mercy” and who “because of His great love” has “shown the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us.” It seems that Christ was gracious to everyone but the Pharisee’s of His day. I wonder how he would react to those who act so much like them today?
I have a lot of questions about this war that is supposedly upon us. In spite of those questions, or maybe because of those questions, I intend to live, even if war rages all around me, by not growing weary in well-doing and, by making a conscious decision to pursue peace. Being a follower of Christ means I can do no less!