Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Obama Wins: What Does This Mean for the Church?
Let’s begin with some of the reasons Barak Obama won the American presidency once again. There are a number of contributing facts and some of them are more disturbing than others. First of all, it seems painfully obvious that this isn’t your grandpa’s America any more. American culture is changing at a very rapid pace. What is changing? The biggest change is the fundamental worldview held by most Americans. The idea of hard work, blood, sweat and tears is what is required to be successful is out of date. Younger generations and the majority of some ethnic groups reject this thinking. The system that requires hard work in order to receive commensurate reward has fallen on hard times. We have become a lazy culture, valuing leisure and material things over values, morality, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing we are working hard and giving it our best. In the absence of absolute moral values, pleasure floods in to fill the gap. If hard work doesn’t get me what I want, then why bother? In addition, the modern view among the majority seems to be that we shouldn’t have to work hard in order to have things. It used to be that hard work was ipso facto honorable. But in American culture, the place of honor has diminished, having been displaced by leisure and a radical view of self where it seems that pleasure is the end goal. This is indelibly connected to a fundamental shift in situational ethics as a guide for morality. Moral relativism is the prevalent moral ideology in American culture. American culture is permeated by moral relativism. Man is indeed the measure of all things. This worldview weakens people. All that is required is for a stronger race or culture or religious movement to come along that actually does have something to fight for and the weaker culture has no chance to survive. Collapse is inevitable. The only way American culture will survive in this new norm is no other power decides to dominate it. The odds are historically against this naïve hope for a world where everyone holds hands and gets along. It is simply not within the nature of man to sustain such a global environment.
“Give me the most stuff with the least amount of effort” is the young American motto. The idea of working hard because it is “right” is dead because “right and wrong” have been redefined to prop up our societies’ desire for things and for leisure. The view that others should have more, or a better life (as defined by materialism of course) simply because they worked hard, is appalling. I am not praising “hard work” for the sake of consuming it on our lusts. I am simply pointing out where our culture seems, not to be heading, but where it has actually arrived. Compensation should not match effort or value seems to be the beating drum. Everyone is entitled to a cell phone, cable, etc. etc. The European model is without question the driving worldview of American political power these days and the source of that power is the worldview of the electorate.
One in five Americans classify themselves as non-religious. This secular worldview is bound to have an impact of the morality and values of the culture. These behaviors have a cost to society and someone will have to pay the bill. With the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent in the modern culture, the one who has the gold will pay the bill and the one who has the weapon of legislation will make sure of that.
The number of liberal churches that deny Scripture its rightful place of authority have only added to the problem. This worldview is no different as it still places man, not God, as the measure and judge of all things. Gay marriage, abortion, redistribution of wealth, and host of other social concerns have displaced Christian values, masquerading as the values of Jesus. It will be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than it will be for a culture with a church on every corner and a bible in every bookstore that still shook it’s fist in the face of God and demanded He submit to them.
As for conservatism in American, last night may have been analogous to having the doctor provide a devastating diagnosis whose prognosis is terminal. All that is left is to tell us how much time remains. Personally, outside of some unforeseen anomaly, conservatism appears terminal, headed for the grave without much hope of a cure in sight. This was predictable given the fundamental shift of American values brought on by a prolonged baptism in postmodern philosophy. What is shocking is that it happened so quickly and the evangelical church was so ineffective at stemming the tide. When a leader can amass the performance that Mr. Obama has over the last four years and still have Americans renew his contract and request more of the same, only spells doom to any contrary worldview. If the Republicans could not win this one, as bad as things are, it seems reasonable to ask can they ever win again without fundamentally changing their own worldview and giving up on traditional conservative value? The current republican party, the traditional republicans are all but irrelevant at this point. The most liberal president ever to hold office has put up one of the worse performances of any president and still won the American vote. This is indeed a different America today than it was four years ago and certainly different than one our fathers and grandfathers grew up in.
What does this mean for the church? Perhaps it means we can get back to focusing on the things that matter again. Now, seeing that we recognize that we will not impose our values on an obviously godless culture, perhaps we can start preaching to it again. We need to focus internally on our own community. We need to focus on one-another, recognizing that we are no longer citizens of this world, but of heaven. Our focus must be centered on preaching the gospel, making disciples, and living Christ’s values before this godless culture. That is living an honorable Christian life. That is how God expects us to carry on. And that is really all that should matter to us. We can no longer delude ourselves into thinking that we are going to realize some euphoric culture where godless men and women actually allow us to impose Christian living on unbelievers. We must be busy focusing on the values within the Christian community, tightening those up and making sure we are living as we claim. The world’s values and our values are fundamentally different and only superficially the same. For years we have thought they were fundamentally the same and only superficially different. This election has given us the clearest indication that this simply isn’t the case.
The church can expect increases in persecution and Jesus told us to rejoice in it but we have been using laws to reject it. We think it the duty of the church to push through laws allowing for the freedom of religion. Where is this principle ever taught in Scripture? Jesus said to rejoice! We can expect abortion to go from bad to worse. We can expect gay marriage and public displays of affection between same sex couples to become the new norm. Drug use is being legalized by states now in an attempt to generate tax revenues. Marriage is a dying idea. Fewer and fewer people are entering the covenant. This should not surprise us since the church has done little to uphold the covenant by allowing members to divorce without consequence. When people take things seriously, they act. Whey they don’t act, well, they don’t take it seriously.
Welcome to the new norm. America has declared it’s complete and unequivocal independence not only from God and religion, but from the fundamental values of Christianity as expressed in the founding documents. America is now a secular nation. She is Christless, godless, but not hopeless. Her hope is the same as any nation: the gospel. The church must resist the urge to increase its focus on trying to win back the conservative moralistic framework that once defined our country. That is a distraction we do not need and one that will produce very little if any fruit. In addition, it is a distraction we can no longer afford. Let us be diligent about preaching the gospel, baptizing converts, making disciples and living in our communities, our Christian communities that is, the values that reflect that power of change produced by the gospel on our depraved sinful hearts. If change is ever going to come, it will be because of the power of the gospel of Christ which no man can resist when applied to the human heart. That is the business of an all sovereign, all powerful, and almighty God, not the Christian right or evangelical Christian political activism.