In this post, I want to do something out of the norm. While all exegesis contains some subjectivity in one form or another, most serious biblical scholars attempt to stab at the truth through what they see as objective evidence. In this case, I am making no pretense that this is anyway an objective opinion. It is simply a gut feeling. It is subjectivity at the highest level. I won’t be offering much in the way of scriptural support. What little scriptures I do offer (if any) will be those passages in which I FEEL point to what my thoughts are. Plenty of you might find what I think to be wrong. I am okay with this. To paraphrase N. T. Wright, a quarter of what I think is wrong, I don’t know which quarter it is.
Here of recent, my wife and I have been reading Luke-Acts. As we are progressing through the books (we are on chapter 16 of Acts) I cannot shake this one strong impression: The modern church in America has lost an equilibrium which the Church of Acts possessed. This equilibrium was a balance of bold political opposition tempered with grace and a gospel driven mission empowered by the Holy Spirit. In my experience, churches have either fallen on side of the scale or the other.
Church’s today seem reluctant to rock the boat. They are afraid to announce that since the resurrection, we have been living in a theocracy. We (and I include myself in this) live under the delusion that America was a Christian nation. We are no more a Christian nation than Rome was a Christian Empire under Constantine. Sure, Constantine may have converted, but the reality was that the Roman empire was essentially pagan in culture and lifestyle. The reality is America never was a Christian nation. Our arrogance is astounding.
But I digress, some of today’s churches fight in meaningless legal battles (not to say all battles are meaningless) but many of them are a loss from the outset. Maybe its not legal battles maybe its picketing abortion clinics or some other cause. Energies and resources which may be better spent on improving social conditions from the ground up.
Now let me be clear, I am not saying that it is wrong to defend a living fetus who can’t defend its self. However, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the mother who is no less precious than the unborn child. Jesus didn’t spend three nights in the grave for us to pick and choose who is worth the effort and grace. He came to extend grace, love, and forgiveness to all.
On the other hand, some churches spend so much time and effort on sharing the love of God that they neglect announcing Jesus is Lord! They fail to announce the most basic message of the Gospel – The Messiah, the eternal king of the world, descendant of David has taken up his throne. This message should catapult the Church into the political arena. It is here where governmental oppression should be fought. They should push their governmental leaders to enact policies which show mercy to the poor and justice to weak. Yet too many times the church’s agenda is too simply deal with the symptoms and not be the solution Jesus called us to be. Ever wonder why Paul was so determined to get to Rome? He wanted to confront Caesar with the Gospel. Jesus is Lord! Caesar is not!
The Church needs to get back to the equilibrium expressed in Acts. We need to be ready to announce the subversive news that Jesus reigns without neglecting social issues of poverty, injustice, hunger etc.… Let’s get back to being the Church!