Now, I realize this entry is likely to raise the ire of many who stumble across it, but it needs to be said. In case you don't have a background in computer science or discrete mathematics, the "!=" sign in the title stands for "NOT EQUAL," as in "Republican does not equal Christian." Now, in case you are fearful that I am about to begin bashing the Republican Party, fear not. I simply wanted to get something off my chest that has been weighing on my mind for some time. It is an idea that seems especially pertinant at a time when many fundamentalist Christians look on in horror as the introduction of postmodern philosophy into the Church threatens to completely erase the truth of the Gospel from Christian consciousness. If I may, I'd like to draw your attention to a section of scripture that has really been speaking to me of late:
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:1-7)
What does this have to do with the subject of this post? In the simplest terms I can find to express it, the biggest problem in late 20th and early 21st century fundamentalist Christianity has been this:
While so many of us (myself included) are prepared to argue for hours on end when presented with a chance to speak out on homosexual marriage, abortion, prayer in schools, or any other controversial social issue, we become strangely tongue-tied, standing around with sheepish looks on our faces when presented with an opportunity to share the simple, yet glorious mystery of a King who would lay down His life for His subjects. We have forsaken our first love, and so we labor at trying to change those around us on the outside, rather than to introduce them to the one that can change them from the inside, forgetting that "the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Am I saying that Christians should keep silent and embrace the "tolerance" of the liberal when confronted with the opportunity to speak out on the issue of sin in our society? Certainly not, but we need to understand that the prevalence of sin in our communities is merely a symptom of a greater illness, and not the illness itself. Treating symptoms should never have become and must not remain the primary focus of the evangelical church.
You see, you and I as Christians can do nothing out of our own strength to change the hearts of those who are lost in the quagmire of sin. All we can do is to allow God's own words to show them that they are sick, then lovingly introduce them to the Great Physician who can heal the very root of their illness. If we spend all our energy attempting to treat the symptom, rather than the disease, then we are just as guilty of selling an empty social gospel as the postmodernists who have invaded our churches.
30 years ago, my father could not understand how the great apostasy described by Christ and the Apostles could possibly come in his lifetime. Now, for all intents and purposes, it is here. It is the eleventh hour. The time for band-aids is long gone. We need a doctor - and so do those around us.