Philip Yancey says that American Christians have become the kind of men and women that people appreciate as neighbors but don’t want to spend much time with. We take ourselves too seriously. Yancey points to theologians with long faces and loud voices, lecturing on the imperatives of the faith. I’ve certainly seen the pride and arrogance of those who write and present papers to counter papers that were written twenty years ago which were written and presented to oppose papers that were written two hundred years ago. I’ve seen the TV evangelists with every dyed hair perfectly in place naming the current Antichrist and pointing out their own healthy and wealthy lives as the way to salvation. I’ve seen and heard — especially in this election year; God help us! — the religious right talking about their issues and their great morality and their hard line stances on what’s absolutely right and absolutely wrong with the world.
We’re so eager to point out how good we all are, I fear we’re neglecting the very basic fact that the Gospel is a spectacularly good thing that is happening to spectacularly bad people. Those people should never dare to speak for all Christians the way they do. And they certainly shouldn’t call themselves the Moral Majority. Shouldn’t it be the Repentant Majority or the Forgiven Majority?
G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
The question is not, “Why is Christianity so bad when it claims to be so good?” The question is, “Why are all human things so bad when they claim to be so good?”
We are failing the Good News of Jesus Christ when we run around acting like we’ve got everything figured out; like we’ve got all the answers; like there’s no more mystery. We distort the Gospel and do violence to the Scriptures when we proclaim that God sent his Son to establish the United States as some kind of beacon of Truth to the world.
As children of God and disciples of his Christ, if we have any answers at all to what’s wrong with the world, it has nothing to do with our morals or our laws or our candidates. The solution to what’s wrong is not found in anybody’s constitution or declaration or form of government or economic system or military strategies or might. What’s wrong with the world is sin and the solution is only found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
God revealed himself in Christ Jesus to show us how he’s fixing things. It’s in sacrificial service. It’s in unconditional love. It’s in forgiveness and reconciliation. Peace. Obedience. Prayer. Worship. Suffering. Death.
Of course, you already knew that. This is not new information. You’ve known it a long time. It’s just that it’s very difficult. And mostly untried.