It takes a tragedy or a monumental event to trigger the church's reaction time. The American church is typically cruising along the back roads in the slow lane. Someone has engineered a defensive driving school for us. There's but one strategy: avoid the high traffic areas, especially those complicated intersections. Only when there's a crash can we enter them. And, the reaction time is slow.
You know, faith meets life every moment at every turn. None of us will encounter anything today that our biblical faith cannot influence. Of course, to affirm that isn't to say life and ministry intersect as naturally. It's because many spiritual leaders are fearful of the complicated and fast intersections we must encounter these days for life and ministry to cross.
The last few weeks are a prime example. For generations church leaders have whispered the truth that 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in the United States. Several bold voices have called all us out on the racial tensions that used to simmer under the surface of society but are now exploding in communities around the nation. Events in Jefferson, Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland, and the racially motivated murder of nine people at prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, have finally resulted in some reaction time from God's church in America. The intersection that so many of us avoided suddenly resulted in a collision that America's spiritual leaders couldn't avoid. But, it took a tragedy to get much reaction out of us at all.
The SCOTUS opinion about same-sex marriage, which is now the law of the land, is another case in point. Some of our more alert and courageous Christian leaders have been warning about the downside of our sexual appetites and the bottom of our moral slippery slope for years. Suddenly, in a matter of a couple of hours, the Obergefell v. Hodges decision prompted some reaction time from evangelical church leaders. There's been some murmuring in the past about our other sexual sins, but the marriage decision finally elicited some national comment.
Yesterday, the entire sleeping world was awakened by a video clip of Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services talking to representatives of a human biologics company about selling body parts of aborted babies. Again, this is nothing new. But, it took something appalling to move church people and politicians and media to the troubled intersection of a right to life.
Perhaps all of these shocking realities will raise our reaction time to some of the other dangerous intersections where American traffic is zooming fast and wild:
| Degrading the worth/applicability of the US Constitution as our rule of law.
| A growing Christo-phobia, once in media, now in government, and in public.
| Over-playing the separation of church and state, thus silencing the church.
| Historical revisionism that seeks to re-define American life.
| Bitter attacks on the symbols of life and faith.
| Human trafficking within our borders.
| The disarming of the criminal justice system.
| Runaway immigration abuses and violations of law.
| The enlargement of government and national indebtedness.
And, the list is much larger. I'm wondering what our reaction time will be when they spill over to the streets and lanes of our local communities, not that they aren't already.
One of our neighbors and I were talking one day, solving all the national problems. He said he asked his pastor's opinion of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage. His pastor said something to the effect, "That's a political topic and we don't do politics at church". Talk about being asleep at the wheel. My fear is that his response isn't just an isolated case. Far too many of us think the same way.
God's people must---
1. Understand the importance of reaction time. We don't need to be the last
voice weighing in on every issue. So, a good strategy would be to eliminate
reaction time by becoming proactive on the key moral and spiritual indicators of
our national identity. Remember: a small contingent of empowered believers
"turned the world upside down" in Thessalonica (Acts 17:6). Could God expect
any less of us today?
2. Understand the timing of his assignment. Tragedy or calamity or government
action shouldn't trigger our reaction to these dangerous intersections. Jesus
taught that we should be prepared (see Luke 14:28), that we should work while
it is day (see John 9:4), and that we should not be afraid to encounter the trouble
spots of our world (see Luke 12:4).
Tough intersections? Yes, Jesus commissioned us right here, right now. Before he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane he told his disciples---
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world
you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world"
That's the life of his people when the intersections get hard and dangerous. We are overcomers.