Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Alternative Society

“Let me write the songs of a nation; I don’t care who writes its laws.”
–Andrew Fletcher, Scottish politician

The debate continues. I really thought after the vote to reform healthcare by our government officials this past week, some of the healthy debate, nasty banter, and all around discussion would subside – at least a little bit. Man, was I wrong (and I hate it when I'm wrong). In fact, it seems as though all the emotions, attacks, and defenses have intensified. I tried, believe me I tried, all week to write without bringing attention to the events of this past week – but the Lord just wouldn’t allow it. I sat down on three different days to write this jot, but it was a subject the Lord continued to surface in my mind. So, given the recent uproar in Washington, I thought it might be helpful to jot this week, not about healthcare reform, but about our role and responsibility as Christians, the church, in responding to politics and spurring cultural change.

I've said this before - Christ did not die on the cross so you would be either a Republican or a Democrat. It just doesn’t matter to Him. Wherever you might land politically, it’s helpful for all Christians to remember that the Kingdom of God is not flying in on Air Force One. Unfortunately, when it comes to engaging culture, many Christians think exclusively of political activism. I fully agree that Christians need to be involved in the political process – but our priority, as Christians, is to bring the standards of God’s Word to bear on every dimension of our culture.

That said, politics are not the only thing (and definitely not the main thing) God had in mind when He commanded cultural transformation (Matthew 28.19-20). A temporary victory in the voting booth does not reverse a downward moral trend driven by cultural gatekeepers in news media, entertainment, art, and education. Politics is not a cure-all. In fact, with every passing day, I grow more convinced that what happens in New York (finance), Hollywood (entertainment), Silicon Valley (technology), and Miami (fashion) has a far greater impact on how our culture thinks about reality than what happens in Washington, DC (politics).

Yet, we seem to get more upset about things said and decisions being made in Washington than we do in the aforementioned cultural pillars of our society. Why? Is it because we care more about how our personal lives are affected than we do our culture? Let me say this – God has established His church as an alternative society, not to compete with or copy this world, but to offer a refreshing alternative to it. These are our moments to shine. These are the times the Lord has given us, in the dead of night, in the middle of a Katrina, to shine as lighthouses for His glorious redemption and hope to fall on our culture, therefore:

• We are to have joy while others wallow in their negativity
• We are to act out in kindness when others lash out in anger
• We are to have self-control when people are harsh and nasty
• We can comfort because we are at peace when people are overcome with worry and fear
• We need to exhibit patience when so many people are running and jumping around like "chickens with their heads cut off"
• We are to be confident (in Christ) when others are beside themselves
• We should be servants when everyone else is demanding service
• We have to show love in the midst of a culture that reserves love

We should get on our knees, raise our hands to the sky, and thank God for these opportunities to proclaim His majestic Name and live out His glorious truths. Yet, so many times we react to crisis, injustice, evil, etc., no differently than anyone else and instead of offering an alternative society, we inadvertently communicate to our culture that we have nothing unique to offer – nothing deeply spiritual or profoundly transforming.

Our story (of God's redemption) is the only one that brings meaning, purpose, and hope from above – something completely alternative to our world. Let's accept what the Lord ordains for our lives and make His Kingdom our priority.