Been thinking about the whole Chik Fil A controversy this week. One of the things that the church and Christians are having to come to terms with is the change in our society. We are quickly becoming a “post Christian” society. Now, I know we can argue about the levels of morality of the past, i.e. was a society that had forced segregation by race as “moral” as we make it out to be, but every measurement shows that by and by the strength, clout, and effectiveness of the organized church is on the decline.
Even in a town like Petal, MS where we joke that there are churches on every corner, we are at least 50% unchurched, and Walmart is probably the busiest place in Petal on a Sunday.
So, what does all this controversy tell us about the state of things? A few thoughts from my caffeine infused brain.
1. Decline of organized church – this goes to the “post Christian” nature of our society. In the past, the church, or a preacher, or a Christian could say “The Bible says this” and the discussion was over. Now, we say that, and the response from the world is “so?”
We as Christians are living in a culture and place where the norms are quickly changing. And, I think that this has serious implications for the church.
The “institutional, they know what time we start” church is over. In the past, we as Christians expected folks to look to us as Christians, as the church, for answers. They know longer do it. We expected them to stream into our churches. They aren’t. We are expected them to look to as the moral compass of our nation. They don’t.
I don’t like it. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s scary. But as my Asbury folks here me say a lot – it is what it is.
2. Opposition from society – This leads to our second observation – In our society we are more likely to be mocked than respected. But, didn’t Jesus say as much?
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
We are used to being respected. But, our Lord didn’t promise us respect from the world and society. Never.
In fact, He promised us the exact opposite. What makes us think that we will fare better than our Lord?
So, if we are part of a society where we will be mocked, what are we do to? What is the response of a Christian to this new age we are living in?
3. The greater need to radically love – I know this is hard. I know it’s hard when we are mocked, made fun of, everything else. But listen. Listen to what our Lord said in Luke 6:27-36:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
I know, know, know the response we want to have is to punch back. I know. But as our Lord said, what does it gain us to love only those that are good to us? Nothing.
We don’t want to. I get it. But, what does our Lord say? Love. Love them. Even those that mock us. Even those that despise us. He promised us that they would. He promised.
And the only, only way that we can hope to change anyone is love. Only God’s love changes folks, and only God’s love through us changes people.
I know it’s hard. But it’s the only way.
And that leads to our last point
4. Growth of kingdom based church – if we as the church can do this
1. Admit our sin and our need for Jesus
2. Take the attention off ourselves and point to the one that died for our sins and rose for our victory – Jesus Christ. Radically, totally, and only point to Him as the source of our redemption and life
3. Proclaim Him through our word AND our actions by radically loving the least of these in our midst, and radically loving EVERYONE we meet
We can change the word. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we can. We can love folks to Jesus. And change the world for His glory.
Now these are not namby pamby ideals. We as the church need to stand for what is right. we need to teach our children what is right. As a husband and father, I want to love my children, protect my family and keep them safe at all times. That’s my duty as a husband and as a father.
And I will do so.
But, hear me on this. Folks will not like it. First, we shouldn’t be shocked. Second, we should stand strong on our beliefs, no matter the response of culture. And third – we should follow the advice of our Lord. Love them any way. And when they wonder why we love- say this one word.
These are just a few of my thoughts. Hope they are helpful.
I sent the mayor of Boston an encouraging e-mail (that he will probably never see). I shared that we might not agree on everything, but that I was praying that God would grant him wisdom and that Boston would prosper under his leadership. It seemed like the most loving thing to do.