To understand some of the underlying frustration in a post like this, you have to know something about the past 5 years of my life. I work in a Christian bookstore.
To those that know me, I am aware that this is no big revelation, but I believe it plays a huge role in why I feel the way I do about certain aspects of the Church.
As a seller of Christian books good and bad, poignant and cheesy, inspired and inspirational, I have seen my fair share of “trends” within the “Christian market”.
A trend that has been building steadily over the last year and a half concerns lamenting the decline of God’s chosen nation, America, and calling for Christians to DO SOMETHING to yank the United States out of the evil hands of the socialists. Is this a bit of a caricature? Of course. But while I’m sure not all of these authors would call America “God’s Chosen Nation”, I do believe most of them would agree with the rest of my description of their stance.
John Hagee’s new book, Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are the Terminal Generation encapsulates this trend perfectly.
When I first saw this book featured in our store’s catalog, a coworker and I sort of laughed it off. I remember asking her, “Does the answer to that question impact the way I follow Christ?”
And that’s really the core of my discontent with the current onslaught of discussion about the dangerous road that America is headed down: What does this have to do with following Christ?
This morning when I was getting ready for work, I noticed that John Hagee’s show was listed in the Guide. I flipped to it as it was starting, and, as my luck would have it, he was talking about his brand new book. Over the next half hour, I stomached as much as I could of his “preaching”. He was really concerned about the death of the dollar, America no longer backing Israel, and Iran blowing us up with nuclear weapons.
As an American, I can agree with him that getting nuked by Iran would be quite unpleasant, and I hope that this doesn’t happen. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel that he was missing the point.
He is a pastor. Pastors are supposed to take care of the church and encourage folks to follow Christ more closely. I couldn’t help but think the entire time I was watching the program, that every minute spent agonizing over his perception of the state of the union was a minute he was not encouraging his flock to love God more fully, love their neighbors as themselves, and to love one another as unconditionally and sacrificially as Christ loved them.
Instead it appeared that he was more interested in creating fear and panic. (Fear tactics when it relates to politics cause me to ask if we really trust in God’s sovereignty, but that could be a whole ‘nother post.)
I know that Hagee’s sentiment does not represent all of Christendom in America, and I am grateful for that. But I couldn’t help but wonder: When the thousand or so people in attendance (not to mention the thousands more watching on television) carry on with their daily lives, will hearing a message of doom and gloom about our country make an impact in how they represent Christ and His Kingdom? Maybe the answer is ‘yes’, and I’m extremely short-sighted, but I’m inclined to say the answer is ‘no’. And that discourages me greatly.
Christ would look so much more beautiful to the world if we were asking questions like, “How Do I Love Selflessly?” “What Can We Do to Eradicate Abject Poverty?” “How does a Follower of Christ Relate to the World While Pursuing Social Justice?” “How Can We Better Build Bridges to Those Whom We Have Wrongly Hurt?” “What Does it Look Like to Love As Christ Loved in the Mundane?” “How Do We Best Honor the Image of God that is Imprinted on Everyone We Meet?” “What Role Should the Church Play in Racial Reconciliation?”
Obviously, these aren’t the only important questions, but I think they’re a start. They are better questions that refocus us on following Christ regardless of circumstance. Wrestling through these sorts of questions inspires me to keep growing much more than speculation on politics. I’m inspired when I hear Christians asking these questions and not settling for easy answers. Only as we focus more on the Kingdom and less on Country can we begin to go down this road.
What say you?