"Keep your eye on the ball!" my coach would yell at me from the dugout. Having a habit of swinging with my eyes closed was producing disappointing results. His encouragement still rings in my ears from time to time. One such time was this evening.
Our regular crew had gathered to share needs and concerns as well as to gather around God's Word for a mid-week refill. In the midst of the sharing one gentleman spoke up concerning yet another shot fired in the culture war. I agreed that Christians need to let their voice be heard in this matter. It's fine to send a letter, or make a phone call, or even sign a petition to express your concern. However, this event, and many others like it, are secondary issues to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. In case you missed it, they are secondary.
While I hate that my children will likely grow up in a culture that has, in a short few decades, moved from modesty, courtesy, responsibility, and accountability to debauchery, rudeness, and recklessness I cannot bear the thought of my children inheriting a faith held hostage to secondary pursuits. The culture war is certainly real enough for all of us to acknowledge and I readily agree that there is much at stake. However, I patently disagree with how much of this "war" is being waged. Jesus clearly told His friends that their way was not to be the world's way. "As you know, the kings and great men of the earth lord it over the people; but among you it is different. Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be greatest of all must be the slave of all. For even I, the Messiah, am not here to be served, but to help others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:42-45. TLB)
The primary mission of the believer is not societal preservation but spiritual transformation. It is my firmly held belief that where there is effective spiritual transformation the resolution of societal issues will follow. I am disturbed by the incredible energy individual believers and churches will pour into the societal problem du jour. What if we poured as much energy into developing relationships with the people running the abortion clinics, or the homosexual couple living down the street from us, or the Muslim family that moved to town, or the alcoholic father ruining his family? What difference might that make? The clear mandate for followers of Christ is to proclaim the gospel, not to legislate morality. It is no wonder much of our society is turning a deaf ear to the church. I know I don't listen to negative voices for very long. As I've often said, our society knows what the evangelical church is against, I'm just not sure they know what we're for.
As I read the New Testament I am struck by the absence of boycotts, letter writing campaigns, or election year posturing by the early church. They simply shared their faith with a culture that was increasingly hostile to their message. I don't relish the notion of spending prison time. Neither do I cherish the thought of a martyr's death. Yet these are the very things that were commonplace for Peter, John, Barnabas, and Paul (just to name a few notables). I am equally struck by their single minded dedication to the task of sharing the good news of Christ's substitutionary death for sinners and His triumphant resurrection for believers.
Some guru is noted for saying, "Keep the main thing the main thing." Sharing the good news = primary. Everything else = secondary.