Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fear-mongering

I'm getting a lot of emails these days which fit into the rather broad category of Christian fear-mongering. They consist of somewhat alarming messages and warnings of various events--some factual, some dubious--about impending events which have the loosely common thread of somehow being about eroding of freedoms for Christians, with the eventual result of a total lack of freedom to be a follower of Jesus. As I said, some of the events described in the email are based on fact. But it's not the whole story.

The Mavericks basketball season ended last night, but last week, I watched a little bit of one of their playoff games. The camera, of course, follows both teams, but more importantly, it follows the ball.

Imagine, however, you are watching a game, rooting for your favorite team, and the camera only focuses on the other half of the court. For a couple of hours, you only see when the other team scores, and you never see your team make a single basket. If that's all you saw, you couldn't possibly come out of that game happy. You'd think that your team lost, because all you saw was what the other team's success. And you'd very possibly be wrong.

Read about the beginning of the Church, in the book of Acts. In the first few chapters, you see that there are several negative incidents which get the thing off to an interesting start: people getting thrown in jail, Stephen getting murdered. But there were also healings, and thousands of conversions, and countless acts of selflessness. The truth is that the kingdom of Christ was taking foothold and was beginning to spread throughout the Middle East, then the world. Then, as now, the Church was winning!

When we listen to Christian radio shows, and read websites, that bombard us all the time with news about what the Trilateral Commission or Democrats or Republicans are up to, or what kinds of laws are being passed which make it harder to be a Christian in the US or in other nations, we fill our minds with negative ideas that are only going to steal our joy.

I don't see how we can immerse ourselves in the fear-mongering that is present in alarmist emails and still adhere to this verse:

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:1


The fact is, God's kingdom is advancing faster than ever. People are getting saved, and hurting people are finding healing (emotional as well as physical), marriages are getting restored, prodigal children are returning home. This is the good news that's going on right now, and it's why I really don't give a flip about the evils of Democrats, rock music, or any of the stuff that I wasted my time worrying about for 20 years. God is so much bigger than that stuff. If someone takes "under God" out of the pledge, or some TV show has a gay character, God is not affected. He still gets to be God.

One more thing: part of the alarmist mindset is related to complaints of eroding morality. We Christians are wasting our time trying to get the unbelievers in the world to get moral. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul recognized this, and specifically told the letter's readers not to judge the unbelievers, but to feel free to correct the actions of Christians. He was unhappy that someone in the church was sleeping with his father's wife, but the church was allowing it. But right after that, he said for us to reserve our judgment for believers, not unbelievers.

Why not judge non-Christians? Simply put: if you're lost, you're lost. It doesn't matter that Ellen Degeneres is gay. It matters she is not a Christian. If Obama is not a Christian, he needs Jesus, period. If he is a Christian (as he claims), then we are to judge him because of certain political positions he holds to. But lots of Christians, and lots of Republican politicians, hold to some anti-biblical positions. Greed and adultery, just to name a couple, have been exhibited in abundant quantities in the Republican party leadership in my lifetime. Rather than demonize political leaders who don't see things our way, let's pray for them, and let our voice be heard in a non-divisive way when appropriate.

To be honest, I am a lot more concerned about certain preachers who present Jesus as a feel-good self-help program than I am about concentration camps, or whether Obama's birth certificate is valid. Let's focus on what we should focus on, folks.