Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jesus and America

I stood on the side of the street with my love and our babies on the Fourth of July and got a little teary as I watched small town America at its best.  It was the parade.  The band played.  The flag team twirled. The pageant girls waved.  Candy was thrown.  Even the tractors had a special place.  And I was overcome with pride.  This is my town.  This is my state.  This is my America. 

But in the weeks that surrounded that day, I have found my patriotism being challenged.  I hate the state of affairs we are currently in.  Truly, hate it.  I hate that deals are made to betray our allies, God’s people, and to benefit our enemies.  I hate that there are mass killings in public places, which are spun into political stories.  I hate that humans are trafficked for purposes that are uncomfortable for me to contemplate.  I hate that millions of babies are not only slaughtered but their bodies are mutilated and sold off and the leftovers are disregarded.  I hate that individuals are struggling to be who God created them to be and network tv exploits it as entertainment.  I hate that our government legalizes a mockery of God’s design for marriage.  I hate that I can think of more things that I hate.  I hate that my list is long.  I hate it.

And, honestly, I’m embarrassed by it.  This isn’t MY America.  This belongs to some one else.  Anybody else.  The democrats.  The republicans.  The Washington insiders.  The lost people.  Yes, it must belong to the lost people.  Just not me.  It’s not mine.  It cannot be mine!

But.  It is mine.  And that absolutely grieves me.  I live here.  I always have.  And as a follower of Jesus, it’s my calling not to be of this world, but absolutely to be in it.  I have (as have the believers who have gone before me) found it far easier to cloister myself away from these sinners.  It was easy because we had numbers in our favor.  It was easy because silence and avoidance are socially acceptable.  We all know that politics and religion are just two topics you better not discuss.  I mean, for goodness’ sake, you might offend somebody.  Sure gotta be careful not to offend somebody.  And now, because this country is mine, because my eyes are opened to the reality that now is the USA, I’m sickened.  Not only because it is a tragic state, but because I bear responsibility for it.  And so does the rest of the Church here in America.

We (you and me and the believers that have gone before us) have walked away from battles that should have been fought, truth that should have been spoken (in love, of course), and have demanded behavior modification before being willing to reach out to the lost around us.  We silently hold answers for our nation.  And what’s worse, we’ve become ok with that.

We read Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  We know that one.  We tape it on our mirrors and claim it as our favorite verse, but we lie.  We say the verse is true of ourselves, but what we actually live out is, “For to me, to live is me and to die is gain.”  We live our lives basking in God’s abundant grace and forgiveness, biding our time until we die or Jesus comes.  We are thrilled to lay claim to our mansion in heaven.  But we are tragically content to live in gospel silence.
We wag our heads as society continues to make us blush, and remark to each other that things aren’t going to get better and that Jesus must be coming soon. We pray for our community’s lost, that God’s kingdom would come.  But then we walk out our church’s doors and just quietly hope things will get better.

But I feel like it must be said…what if He is about to return?!?!  Doesn’t that mean that instead of sitting quietly on some pew waiting for Jesus like He’s the 3:00 bus to Heaven, we should be actively being salt and light to our nation!?  Sometimes, I wish China would send some missionaries to North America because we (the American Church) is failing to do much of anything for the sake of the Kingdom.

We sing and preach that our God is mighty to save, which He is, but we live like He’s finished here in our America.  And, y’all, He’s not.

We, as a nation, are not beyond God’s glorious intervention and salvation and redemption.  Time after time, Scripture speaks of people who rightly deserved to be wiped off the planet, and God graces them with Himself.  He heals the brokenness that was left in the wake of their sin.  He restores them.  He beautifies the afflicted ones with salvation.

It’s time to stop living a Jonah life, refusing to obey God’s commanding commission to live out the gospel to the lost, then finding ourselves shocked to be in the middle of a massive fish of despair.  “I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

God is not done in America.  But, my brothers and sisters, love is a dirty job.  It may be uncomfortable.  It may involve talking to people you have never associated with before.  And you might find yourself in some pretty new circumstances.  I mean, really, what if you invite a lost neighbor or co-worker to your house for dinner and they bring a bottle of wine?  (Pretty sure all you Southern Baptists are sweating bullets at this moment.)  Or what if you go to a ball game and they, in their passion for the team, blurt out a cuss word…or two?  Hmm.  Pretty sure it’s time to become all things to all people in order to win some. Not to walk in sin, of course, but that we acknowledge that sinners sin.  And news flash, believers do too…we are usually just more suave and subtle about it.

I would not presume to know exactly what God would have you to do about it.  But I know that, for me, I’m ready to get spit onto dry land and share, in my words and my life, the simple, astonishing testimony of the life of Jesus. I can’t keep silently watching, afraid to be offensive.  The cross is offensive…but it sure is beautiful.  

Please, God, bless America.

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