I don’t think I’m alone in my daily prayer that today will be the day when we see some good news and an indication that the craziness engulfing so much of our country has reached its zenith. I begin every day hoping that the cacophony of insane demands and ridiculous proposals flooding the airways begins to diminish and reasonable and sensible voices finally begin to be heard. I pray for a grassroots revival of wisdom and righteousness that will grant us a fresh breeze of sanity. The intense, coordinated, and sustained opposition to so many of the values and principles vital to our personal and national welfare is incredibly burdensome. It’s like the nation is experiencing some kind of internal meltdown, and all the control mechanisms are offline or have been totally dismantled.
Another Kind of Meltdown ~
Speaking of “meltdowns”, our kids used to use that term to describe the reaction of our 2-year-old grandson to the catastrophic realization that he wasn’t going to get his way. When someone stepped in to deny him access to his all-consuming desire of the moment, it triggered a Jekyll-Hyde transformation. He would stiffen up head to toe, and his face would get beet red as every drop of adrenalin his little body could produce was called into active duty. Thankfully, he did outgrow it and developed into a loving, gifted, and remarkable young man, but apparently, multitudes of people in America haven’t made that transition.
All of us have seen videos showing thousands of “protesters” running through the streets of major cities, screaming ridiculous and often incomprehensible demands. We’ve seen them throw off all restraint and unleash violence that reduced large sections of homes and businesses to worthless rubble. Though they apparently share the same level of maturity, these weren’t just a bunch of 2-year-olds who hadn’t learned to deal with life’s challenges yet. Their tantrums didn’t just spill pudding on the carpet. Theirs burned buildings, wrecked vehicles, stole merchandise, destroyed people’s homes and businesses, attacked police, and even ended human lives.
Pertinent Questions ~
But in spite of their violent impact, they represent only a small portion of the broader conflict rapidly engulfing our country, and since it ultimately affects us all, there are pertinent issues we need to consider beyond the impotent and oft repeated question, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” If we’re going to respond effectively, we need to recognize what really lies at the heart of this pervasive conflict. Then we need to ask what on earth can we do about it, if anything, and honestly address our role at this crucial time.
We can begin by acknowledging what the conflict is not about. The conflicts raging around us are not just struggles between ideological, philosophical, or theological concepts. It isn’t just Democrats vs. Republicans, Conservatives vs. Liberals, Marxism vs. a Constitutional Republic, or Communism vs. Capitalism. These painful convulsions emerge from a source much deeper and more profound than any of those things. God warned us about a “flesh vs. spirit” conflict, and we’re experiencing it on a national scale. We’re seeing what it looks like when that “me first” nature we were born with goes to war against all the limits and restraints that God ordained for our protection and preservation. Here’s how God described the source of our situation.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:16–17 NKJV)
An Intriguing “What if” Question ~
At this point it’s pretty clear that the “me first” crowd is winning nearly every major battle. We followers of Jesus sing about victory and rejoice over knowing that we win in the end, but what about now? On a daily basis, the culture around us makes a public mockery of every righteous and beneficial aspect of human behavior that God ever designed. We don’t seem to have a unified strategy to counteract any of it, and many are feeling confused and defeated. But here’s an interesting question . . . What might it look like if the number of people in America boldly identifying themselves as followers of Jesus was somehow doubled, tripled, or more in the next few months, or even the next few years? Could that possibly make a difference?
That may sound like a rhetorical question to stimulate discussion in a theology classroom or Bible study group, but it’s not. Jesus called, cleansed, equipped, and sent every one of us into the world to reproduce ourselves. He’s not just interested in preserving and conserving what He has. He’s in the multiplication market. He didn’t design seeds to produce only one replica of itself. That would be ridiculous. He designed every seed to duplicate itself on a grand scale. Unfortunately, the American church’s record for decades reveals failure of epic proportions in regard to reproduction. We’ve relegated personal evangelism to something the paid professionals do while the rest of us sing songs about how much Jesus loves us and how He won’t let us fail. Given the abysmal results of that plan, perhaps a shift in how we view personal evangelism and our role in it might be in order.
Another Strategy ~
Despite what multitudes have been taught, winning others to Jesus is not just a matter of quoting a few passages from the Bible and praying a two- or three-minute prayer with someone. Making disciples is not just a two- or three-week Sunday School course. The Church of Jesus Christ didn’t grow from a handful of followers in an upper room to where it is today because some folks sacrificed an hour or so once a week to sing some uplifting songs and listen to a thirty minute sermon. The gospel transformed the world because ordinary people understood that Jesus didn’t just come to give people life in the sweet by and by. He came to show us how to live in the nasty now and now.
Jesus didn’t relegate His teaching to just those settings when it seemed appropriate, or those times when a significant audience of some kind was around. He was always teaching, always demonstrating, always living, speaking, and treating others in ways that were obviously and radically counter cultural. The gospel isn’t just about life in eternity, and it isn’t only presented in an oratorical form. The gospel was meant to be visible. The “me first” crowd hungers for life that the gospel offers but can’t find and doesn’t really know what it looks like. Maybe if we began every day as an exercise in personal evangelism by presenting to the world a life they might secretly wish they could have, we’d win more to Jesus than we ever imagined.
Not the Traditional Route ~
I didn’t come to saving faith in Jesus because someone approached me with a Bible in one hand and a “soul-winning” pamphlet in the other. I was drawn toward Jesus because a co-worker lived, worked, talked, and behaved differently than everyone else I knew. He didn’t engage in the things we did, but he seemed happier, more content, and more productive than the rest of us. I saw the “good news” at work in his life, and I wanted what he had. I had questions, of course, and he was ready with answers when I asked them. That kind of thing happens when the gospel is presented as an all-day, all-the-time, everywhere lifestyle.
These are awful times morally and spiritually, but there are millions who are hungering not just to hear, but actually see what some good news really “looks” like in our daily walk as followers of Christ.. Some of them are waiting for us to show them an alternative to the emptiness that haunts them. Paul offers a conclusion and an admonition that sums it all up nicely:
The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:12–14 NKJV)
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “God warned us about a “flesh vs. spirit” conflict, & we’re experiencing it on a national scale. That “me first” nature we were born with goes to war against all the limits & restraints that God ordained for our protection & preservation.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus called, cleansed, equipped, and sent every one of us into the world to reproduce ourselves. He’s not just interested in preserving and conserving what He has. He’s in the multiplication market.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- The gospel transformed the world because ordinary people understood that Jesus didn’t just come to give people life in the sweet by and by. He came to show us how to live in the nasty now and now.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The gospel isn’t just about life in eternity and it isn’t only presented in an oratorical form. It was meant to be visible. The “me first” crowd hungers for life offered by the Gospel but can’t find it. They don’t know what it looks like.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “These are awful times morally and spiritually. There are millions who are hungering not just to hear, but actually see what some good news really “looks” like in our daily walk as followers of Christ.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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