Part 3 of a 4-part series
Continuing through to the end of the week, we are going to be putting the Catch in historical context, corresponding to how God has led us (John & Marti) from the beginning of our lives until now. This is because we believe we are on the cusp of a major shift in attention by the Holy Spirit related to the church and the world, and we want you to understand and appreciate its significance, share in our excitement, and be ready for what’s coming.
What happened with the church and Christianity in the last quarter of the twentieth century was something that hadn’t happened since the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Christians became a powerful force in society. Wielding power at the highest levels, we elected presidents, affected laws, shut down clinics, boycotted products and generally pushed some heavy weight around both politically and socially.
First we were the silent majority, which would have been fine if we were sacrificing and serving as Jesus taught us – welcoming all comers, and taking no sides but the side represented by the kingdom of God. But we didn’t. Instead, we slowly but surely woke up to the realization that if we were, in fact, a majority, and if we decided to be silent no more, we could affect some changes – maybe even “take America back” (as if we ever had it). A new excitement swept over the church: There are enough of us here who care about the same things, and together, we could make some real changes.
But there is a problem: this kind of coalition forces one to take a side, and that created enemies and put us in bed with those who didn’t represent all of our values — only some of them — the ones that we deemed most important. We tried to paint the world as black and white, good and evil — the evil, of course, being those who were not on our side. World view became our view and we were going to finally establish our view as the law of the land.
So, the silent majority became the Christian coalition, which became, at least in the media, the Christian right. Suddenly politicians had to pay attention to us. We tasted power, and power can be intoxicating. It can make you do things you might not do if you were “sober” and more awake to the Spirit of God.
We tried to change the world in the worldly way — what Gregory Boyd calls in his book, The Myth of a Christian Nation, the “power-over” tactics of the politics of worldly governments as opposed to the “power under” way of service and sacrifice that Jesus championed.
Now we have to deal with the aftermath of all this misguided effort. We have enemies who should not be our enemies; we have perceptions of Christians and Christianity that are wrong; we have people excluded from the church and the gospel who should be welcomed in; we have people feeling judged by us when we are not to be doing the judging in the first place; we have Christians isolated in their own social enclaves, walled away from neighbors who should be their friends. We have arms folded that should be wide open.
Now, after over three decades of this cultural isolation, there are long-overdue deep questions brewing. Was this what we were supposed to do? Is the Christian subculture the same as the kingdom of God on earth, or is that kingdom somewhere else, mixed into the world in ways that are not so black and white? Is God only in things declared “Christian” by a subculture, or is He waiting for us to find Him and join Him out in the world? Does the world really need Christian music, television, media and politics; or does the world need Christians in music, television, media and politics?