There is much to be concerned about in modern American culture. Immorality and corruption immediately come to mind. Slander has become our native language in this country.
As Christians, what are we to do about it?
Should we fight it?
I think that depends on what you mean.
We cannot achieve heavenly results with earthly methods. Heavenly ends require heavenly means.
A very strange and dangerous thing happens when we muddle the ends of heaven with the means of earth.
Our spirits rightly cry out, “This can’t be tolerated. It has to stop. Where is justice?” When we are rebirthed in Christ, we naturally crave the atmosphere of heaven. To be bound on earth is to be uncomfortable. We crave our rightful heavenly ends.
Yet our earthly flesh cries out, “Fight. Fire with fire. We are the just.” The old man roars, “We know how to solve this.” Our flesh craves to fight in the way that men fight.
Some of the greatest atrocities of our planet’s history have occurred when heavenly ideals have been combined with fleshly weapons of warfare. It is a recipe for a particularly heinous corruption dressed in the vestments of righteousness.
So what are we to do? What is the way of heaven when we live in an unjust land?
The world needs taught, not fought.
Jesus faced the same predicament. When He was arrested, he chastised one of his disciples who wanted to fight in the way of the world. He told him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52-53)
This wasn’t new. As recounted in John 6, on at least one occasion Jesus withdraw because he knew that the crowds wanted to make Him king by force. They wanted Jesus to lead their political revolution.
Jesus was consistently uninterested in using earthly means of getting things done to achieve His mission.
He wasn’t interested in those earthly methods, and he didn’t see sinners as His enemies. Instead, he ate with sinners, He socialized with them, He forgave them, and He taught them.
Jesus attitude towards his own wayward culture was not one of warfare. Instead, “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
It is my opinion that we should not be shy about telling the truth to our culture. We should tell the truth always. We gain nothing by pretending the Bible doesn’t say what it says.
However, when we identify the immorality, the corruption, and all of the other errors of our culture, we have a choice. We can fight or we can teach.
We can set ourselves apart to form a defensive boundary. We can criticize, mock, and propagate fear.
Or we can adopt a heart of compassion. We can teach the lost.
How many people just don’t know the truth? In my street ministry, I have met many people who have never once heard the gospel. They don’t even know the Christmas or Easter story! In America!
Can we really blame the world for being the world? What else would we expect it to be? What right do we have to feel indignant towards the lost? We call them “the lost” for a reason.
The lost were born into a fallen world, they didn’t choose it. They don’t yet know there even is a way, let alone how to find it.
I’m not suggesting we water down the truth. By no means!
But our posture must be one of humility, compassion, and love, inviting the lost into the truth.
I didn’t get my life in order then come to Jesus. I came to Jesus, and I’m forever in the process of getting right with Him.
Whatever we write, we can adopt this attitude.
This was the power of Narnia. C.S. Lewis said, “Let me explain it another way.” He invited us into a humble conversation about atonement and covenants. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe changed lives.
I will be the first to admit that I am not blameless in this. It’s very easy to be frustrated with the state of the world, to cry out, “Who is going to do something?”
But I’m getting better at recognizing when my earthy-fleshy old man is making plans by earthy-fleshy means. I’m getting better at catching those impulses in my heart, and choosing compassion instead—choosing to teach, instead of fight.
Imperfect still, but better. (I delete a lot of tweets before I post them these days.)
You might already be better at this than I am, but what would it look like to start from a premise of compassion with your creative work? How might you recognize it? Ask the Lord to show you how you might be creating us vs. them barriers in your work, rather than humbly injecting good questions and warmly inviting your reader into a new conversation.
What happens when we humbly teach the lost that there is a way, rather than scold them for being lost?
Thank God that He has compassion on me. Thank God that He teaches me rather than cutting Himself off from me until I get it right.
Let’s follow the way of Jesus.