What got this line of thought going was some reflections about our church. It’s almost three years old. We have yet to see an adult make a decision to follow Jesus Christ for the first time. I have lots of other thoughts about that related to Bible Belt ministry. (See entry here.) Yet, my mind is considering greater issues this time around.
I know, trust, and believe that it is the Father who calls people to Himself. Yet, it is our mandate to make disciples. (Matthew 28.18-20) How the one reality matches the one imperative is still the greatest cause of evangelistic inertia in the western church. The entire movement of the “emerging church” is, I believe, related to this one conflict… how people are told that they must adjust their life to a God who created them, that there is one way to do it, and that failure to make this radical life adjustment is an eternal, colossal, unredeemable mistake.
In the western church, it appears to me that political freedom has brought a corresponding slow down in church growth and conversion. Where there is political turmoil, oppression, and misery, there the movement to Christ in faith seems to be highest.
Scripture tells us that “it is for freedom that Christ set us free.” Yet it is precisely our freedom – that causes so many problems. We are warned not to use our freedom as a license for sin. Freedom is a great, humanity-enriching experience, but it is also a debilitating handicap for those who will not appreciate it nor discipline themselves to live in it.
Political freedom is a case-in-point. In places where political freedom has been won, the thoughts of its people have degenerated. Entire “free” societies are not built around entertainment, athletics, hunting, hobbies… and crime, gossip, sexual misconduct, financial dishonesty…
The same race that breeds heroes in times of crisis breeds idiots in times of indulgence.
We in the west do not use – very often – our “free time” (ask someone in a land of oppression about their “free time!”) for matters of the sublime. We don’t contemplate the truth that will deepen our souls and direct our wills more to loving our Creator and learning to live in obedience to Him. Rather, our “free time” is filled with the mundane, the immediately forgotten, and small things. It sounds rather like Neil Postman’s 1985 observation in his book title “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”
As a result, our divinely created souls are not filled with things that will enrich and nourish them. When fed a constant diet of movies, music, sports, financial pursuits, business and weather, our souls, well, shrivel. They thirst for the deep things of an infinite nature, but they are fed water and crackers – barely enough to keep us alive.
Not so for those privileged to be oppressed. They are ultimately concerned and blessed by the issues that make men and women great. Life, death, honor, courage, responsibility, love, sacrifice… Regular rubbing against these issues has created a long line of unsung heroes in unlikely places. Their tunes fade grandly in places like Syria, China, Cambodia, North Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Heroes still walk the earth – for a short time -before their melody is quieted by an enemy who would rather men be distracted than distinguished.
May those of us who have been converted to Christ and who also enjoy political freedom elevate our thoughts and senses! Let’s resist the cultural winds that allows idiots to rise above true heroes and shrivels souls.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians. 4.8)