Look around. Watch the news. Listen to the radio. Scroll Facebook. You may conclude that things today are worse than ever before. That conclusion may turn into your cliched mantra that you put on repeat every time you encounter evil. But here’s my humble opinion. It needs to stop. To put it simply: no, things today are not worse than ever before.
I’d like to open up a few cans of worms that many of us aren’t even aware exist: modern eugenics, technology, and virtual reality. In a matter of years, they will create a new norm in society and the Church must begin thinking them through now. We must carefully and thoughtfully give direction to our culture as we embark on a new era of scientific discovery and technological accomplishment.
We live in the entitlement age. A time of history in which we all believe we are entitled to an assortment of rights. Many have looked upon the current state of our culture and have prosecuted my generation, the millennials, with the accusation of being the most entitled generation ever to live. The reality is, we are no more or less entitled than our parents or grandparents.
Most Americans misunderstand God greatly. The god most Americans worship is the man upstairs who doesn’t take much seriously, who will always bow to the desires of his creation, and has the first and foremost goal of giving happiness to everyone. Americans worship a puny god who doesn’t have infinite power, infinite wisdom, or infinite anything. Oh, you wonder how I know this? Well, Americans have said it. Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries recently came out with the results of their research entitled, The State of Theology. And the results? Frightening.
Even among self-professing evangelicals, the results are eye-opening and concerning. No longer do evangelicals reference Scripture to find out what God is like. Instead, they consult their own opinions that have been influenced by half-listened-to sermons, documentaries on Netflix, and the latest book by ultra happy, always smiling, good ole Joel. So, the problem doesn’t just stem within the American unchurched. The problem stems in the pews of small church America all the way to the stadium seats of megachurch America.
God then country is a myth for most. In theory, many strive to have their priorities correctly aligned, but all too often, what we are really passionate about and what we really care about come to the surface. And with the implied marriage between political leanings and religious beliefs in America, it’s easy to creep into American first, Christian second. No one will question you. Many will applaud you. But we need to bring clarity to the situation.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that Jesus’ followers covered a broad spectrum of political leanings. Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot couldn’t have been more opposite in the political stances they took. The radical left and the radical right, as manifested in the first century, were represented in the ragtag group we know as the disciples. But what we see happen is that when the realization of what Christ’s kingdom is really like, these men with political leanings like you and me made primary the cause of Christ and secondary the cause of their politics.
Along with a hundred million others, last night I looked upon the site of our two leading presidential candidates take part in a debate. It was filled with everything you would come to expect… Lots of fluff without a lot of substance. More than that, it was a loud reminder of what election season magnifies for the Church.
For many people, once January and February of 2017 roll around, life will go back to normal. And for many in the Church, this important lesson will be lost. Let’s grasp this and hold on to it.
Games. I’m tired of them. Publicists, politicians, spokesmen, spokeswomen, and leaders of many industries are busy playing them. What games are they playing? The game of talking points. The game of saying some things, but not saying anything at all. The game of regurgitating what was given to them by spin doctors and speechwriters.
We all know when it’s happening. The games have gone on in the public eye as long as there has been one, but now they are taking over our personal social circles. I suppose it’s always gone on this way. We hear a talking head regurgitate some talking points about whatever issue is at hand and then we regurgitate it down the hall to our coworkers and then to our family and friends at home. We listen long enough to get the talking point so we can know what our opinions are and then we move on – I’ve got that issue figured out! But the problem with the games we play and the talking points we regurgitate is this: they are killing our ability to hear.