In the precise moment conservative American Christianity could have taken up the cross and a call from great leaders could have prepared people for radical shifts so that American Christians could learn to NOT live in fear, but instead in power… at that moment, fear dominated.
We feared losing “power.” With no more photo ops in the White House, whatever would we do? Without getting our pictures with “powerful” people, whoever would know of our humble service to Jesus Christ?
We feared losing “rights.” There is absolutely no doubt we, as Christians, have had it “good” all this time. But growing fear has caused us to panic rather than prepare. It has led us to a politics of fear rather service in the name of our King. Religious rights are eroding. But they have been eroding over several decades under Republicans AND Democrats and somehow the political mantra has been “It’s the Democrats’ fault!” Here is the reality: When the culture has a clash over what they perceive as “human” rights vs. what they perceive as “religious” rights, guess which “rights” win? That’s just how things go. And rather than prepare people for it, Christian leaders have panicked people over it.
We feared the culture wars. Instead of showing off the greatness and beauty of Jesus so people would really know what it meant to “choose life,” we tried to mandate people into righteous living, and in that scenario Jesus’ people don’t look so inviting anymore.
So, we’re left with a culture that has pigeon-holed conservative Christians and now every last single one of us are going to get painted with the same brush. I can’t shed these labels or the color of my skin or my gender any more. I am going to get swept up in this labeling whether I was part of this fear mongering or not. What will happen after this election, no matter who wins the presidency, will be swift… and conservative Christians will not coming out so good on this one.
Here’s the thing: I don’t say that out of fear. Not at all. I say it out of a depth of conviction and practice. This is something the Lord spoke to my heart after 9/11. Fifteen years ago I could see where we are today… and rather than fear, God has called me to faith. He has called me to prepare. The deep, troubling thought, though, has been, “I really thought more would get this.” While so many DO get it… there are still far too many not seeing what is going on and fear has set the camp on fire. It’s burning and the whole world is watching. It’s not a “good” fire at all.
I have deep hope as well. There is a new generation that isn’t caught up in the political promises of any party. They look different and act different… and we’ve called them “lazy.” They are not. They have a deep fire of the Spirit burning in them. Political races don’t excite them because they don’t care if political figures are paying attention to them or not. They are called to serve and be salt and light… to live out the Sermon on the Mount rather than impose it on people through legislation and courts.
There is a good thing happening. There ARE people prepared. In small pockets, they are learning to live as salt and light. Being friends with Muslims, with other marginalized in the culture, doesn’t bother them. They aren’t worried about terrorist cells or getting influenced in unbiblical ways. They just don’t make the news. And if they vote, they aren’t getting asked exit polls questions and if they did, they probably aren’t filling out the “evangelical” category in a way the media can possibly understand.
Yet, in all of this, they, too, will get hit hard by the foolishness of what is left of “conservative” Christianity. It will have a deep impact on them. It just won’t bother them as much. They’ve been getting ready and following the King isn’t predicated on who is in the White House and if the “right” justices are on the Supreme Court. Their court is higher.
This is what I had hoped to prepare for, and prepare others for. I wasn’t as blatant in my action in the past. I wasn’t as forthcoming in my reasoning. I just chose to live differently… and lead differently.
I have most certainly been vocal in my opinions about this election, and that conversation always gets me in trouble. Oh, well.
Could we do better? We most certainly could have in other elections, but our sloppiness, laziness, and lack of spiritual backbone has us here.
There are deep changes that will feel like whiplash coming. No matter who wins this November. Perhaps some will finally wake up and ask what is going on… Most may not. Regardless… I want to keep preparing myself and others for what God is truly doing so I don’t miss the next thing from HIM.
There will be an autopsy performed on American Christianity in the next several years. And we’ll be left with what could have been as a sad epitaph.
It didn’t have to be that way. There is still time for wonderful change.
Get the sails up. The Spirit really is moving.