Looking back on the short time I’ve been alive, it sobers me to see how many of my close friends have fallen from grace. Best friends who have fathered illicit children in a drunken fit of passion. Mentors who have been scorched by the fire of an extramarital affair. Students who are, as you read this, sitting in jail cell for crimes they never dreamed of committing. Passion takes hold so violently in life but it comes in so subtly. As I’ve spoken with so many friends, the most common theme has been compromise; those little things we pass off as silly or unimportant are often the keys to life. A diet is not spoiled by one solitary piece of cake; but the cake is the open door to obesity.
I think one of the greatest accomplishments of Satan in recent years has been the denouncement of importance. Nothing matters anymore, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fanatic. The primary target? Our belief system. Faith is to many of us like a game; you try your best, but if you lose it’s not the end of the world. So many people underestimate how greatly their life is impacted by their belief system.
Take, for instance, the ever raging debate in Christendom over cultural influence. For many years a majority of Christians believed that the Kingdom of Christ was to be ushered in by Christian actions; if you wanted Christ to return, you worked hard to make the world more like the Kingdom. This led to the ‘social gospel’ at the turn of the twentieth century.
Enter dispensationalism and the belief that Christ’s Kingdom would not be ushered in but rather usher us out–save us from this wicked world. That subtle shift of doctrine completely rewrote the church’s attitude and we were no longer working to invite Christ’s Kingdom, we were biding our time until His return. So many Christians moved out of the cities and adopted a seclusionary view of society–duck and cover until you hear Gabriel’s silver trumpet.
This did several things. First, a world in need of preservation took a turn for the rancid while Christian’s practiced spiritual lassaiz faire. Second, when the world was in the most need of answers (World War I, World War 2, etc.), those who had the answers were nowhere to be found. This brought an extreme skepticism and distrust of Christianity. Third, and perhaps most devastating, these head-in-the-sand Christians who stood at a distance with a maranatha contempt for the rotten world became nothing but condemning strangers. Instead of reaching out, Christians were reaching up, forgetting that Jesus declared: “whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you do it to me.” The world continued on as it has and unbelievers learned that Christians, even by their own profession, have nothing to do with it.
Christianity, 2005. We try to take back art and music, but it is too little, too late. The very foundation upon which most of our institutions are erected is denouncement of this world. And those who do manage to break free from decades of this mentality come face-to-face with a society that wants none of it. After all, they’re not the one’s who changed.
Now people talk a great deal about being Christians. It’s like talking about being an Italian when you live in New Jersey; you can claim it as a heritage, but it really doesn’t apply to today. Today you live in New Jersey. And I’m afraid too many people are looking at the Bible on the shelf, ‘God’ on their currency, and Christmas on the calendar and forgetting that those things are a heritage, not necessarily a reality. If we are going to effect any change in our culture and become living, breathing, active children of God, we’re going to have to fight compromise and take God’s Word seriously.