In yesterday’s post I described the way American Christianity is sacrificing the way of Christ in order to win a culture war. I called this “sacrificing our soul” and I believe it is one of the cost we are paying to try and win the culture way. Now to the second cost, the destruction of community.
By trying to preserve and secure a public society based on Christian beliefs and values, we are more likely to destroy the society we hope to create. Pastors and preachers are well acquainted with the warning about those who love their vision of community more than the community itself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “He who loves his dream of Christian community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the later…” (Life Together, 27).
Anyone who has been a part of a “church split” understands warning well. I want to apply the same wisdom to the public community Christians want to forge as they fight this culture war. Could it be that in our efforts to create/maintain a Christian community out of the larger secular community, we could help destroy the community at large?
I would like to spend the rest of this post briefly suggesting a different way forward. In his blog, Danny Dodd wrote, “Instead of ‘coercion through legislation’ let’s try ‘persuasion through incarnation.’” I happen to believe this is a brilliant idea because it is the way of God, it is the way Christ chose when he emptied himself in humility and became that obedient servant — even unto death on the cross (Phil 2:5-8).
What if instead of trying to force a vision of community based upon Christian values on the American society, what if Christians would simply love the American society regardless of what it becomes?
By love, I don’t mean that we approve or even like everything that goes on in the society at large. What I mean is that we love America in the way of Christ…that we become humble servants to our neighbors, sacrificing our own rights so that our neighbors would be blessed a bit more.
After all, creation, be it the creation of a prosperous life or the creation of a “Christian” society, is not our business. It’s the business of God. That means it is God’s work and not ours. We are called to participate in God’s work. There’s a fine line between participating in God’s creative-kingdom work among the world and trying to create that kingdom ourselves. If we don’t know the difference, we are likely to try the later at the expense of the former.
Jesus’ contemporaries wanted him to establish the kingdom but Jesus realized that such work was the work of God the Father. Jesus knew he was simply called to do his Father’s will and that by his obedience, his Father would establish the kingdom. What we Christians really want is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, as we are taught to pray (Matt 6:10). That will only happen as we learn to stop forcing our values on society and instead love society as the Incarnate God, Christ Jesus, loves.