Excerpts from "i've met the enemy"
Gone is the notion that God becomes our strength only through our weakness. Instead, the current popular white evangelical notion seems to be that God cannot function without us and that He had better hurry to rescue us. We have indeed met the enemy—us.
It is not the evangelical movement that will preserve gospel truth in America. It is the prayers and lifestyles of broken, humbled, no-account followers of Jesus who hold in their hearts the destiny of the Kingdom of God over all national boundaries. What goes on in America that is held up with the pride of rightness is by the permissive will of God and nothing else. Those who in their feeble humanity would take credit for its success or blame others for its failure—such as is the dominant focus of the two major political parties—are fools at best, and we are fools to place our hope in them.
We are enjoying a fading hiatus now that will not be the case indefinitely. Christians everywhere are becoming involved in their versions of a utopian society, where humans either force God back into government or work for reforms that we feel are consistent with the teachings of Christ. It represents a spiritual divide in America that is not unfamiliar to students of scripture. All the while, God is waiting for humility, prayer, an attitude of repentance among believers, and unbridled trust of Him by His Church. All the while He waits for us simply to believe that the affairs of mankind are in His control and to be willing and ready to involve ourselves in the affairs of the Kingdom in His time and in His manner and at His bidding. All the while He waits for us to understand how to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s and never to confuse the two.
A Sign of Our Own Frustration
Campaigning for other people’s rights is often a way of asserting our own. We Americans believe that we have been granted certain rights and that those rights are under the guardianship of government. We Christians ought to consider it our duty to remind an insensitive and bureaucratic government of its responsibilities and do this through our elected representatives, through social justice advocacy, and even through public protest. Unless we are careful, however, our efforts on behalf of the oppressed can unmask our own sense of failure and bitterness. Can we be angry and frustrated over our own emasculation by the system and still do justice to our chosen causes? Can we turn political zeal into the fruits of love? Or must we first learn to love the oppressor before we truly can love the oppressed?
How often in the course of a week do you hear someone, even a fellow Christian, blaming the president of the United States for their own problems. Political attacks can be downright bitter, but when they are masked altruistically—in the interest of the welfare of others less fortunate—we get away with it. Conservatives lash out against liberals for numbers of reasons, among which are economic privilege, power, and elitism. Liberals lash out at conservatives for numbers of reasons, among which is a fear of sliding back to where they began their progressive climb upward. Both wrap their inferiority complexes in the American flag. Think about this for a moment. Does it make any sense that in the interest of “making America great again,” a common theme, you would seek to marginalize half the population?
It would seem that there is so much to do within a sphere of public service that there would be little time to focus on what everyone else is doing. Should it not be that those who truly serve are filled with a passion for touching lives, often without even knowing how they are being used? Who are these bitter critics of governmental and individual ethics? All too many of them are people for whom life has been a disappointment. Unhappy with the failed fantasies of their lives, they choose to spend the remainder serving others by stripping the power of the loyal opposition.
As Christians, we need to tread very carefully into this arena. It requires painful self-analysis and honesty. We cannot serve Christ and satisfy our own hidden agendas. The two will not mix. There is a great tendency to be about our interpretation of the Father’s business, rather than to be about the Father’s business. Opting to assist in the lives of those for whom life has indeed been cruel is a noble effort, but for the Christian it may be a means of avoiding the hard stuff of discipleship. Too often, we use the oppressed to bring attention to ourselves—like the evangelist crusading for sinners and not dealing with his or her own sin. When we get deep into the weeds, it is almost impossible to see Christ in our social action, pro or con, due to the ongoing pressure to organize ourselves out of sync with the sovereign power of God. If Christ is not conspicuously leading an effort, it will be a disastrous road to burnout.