The previous post identified three very large elephants that are banned from the church sanctuary, thus seldom getting talked about or even prayed over. They included the horrendous persecution of believers, the murder of 52 million babies through abortion, and the political noose being tightened around Christian necks.
Why would the church not be allotting significant prayer time to these issues followed by the formulation of a strategy to oppose them? The previous post suggested that tradition supplies a restrictive factor. Historically dealing with these issues has not been part of our culture, and therefore even though the Bible commands that we engage in these issues, culture has more power.
But this is not the only cause of ecclesiastical resistance toward elephants.
Elephants Aren’t Us
Perhaps another reason why we don’t do elephants is because we tend to do things about us, and we are not elephants.
I must begin the discussion on this cause of the churches lack of responsiveness to these vital issues by asserting that God’s people are good and those who lead them are very special people. Christians are loving and manifest concern for others. By and large their lives reflect qualities substantially superior to the unbelieving world.
That said, however, we are all inclined toward serving self. In that regard I see myself as the chief of sinners. I am often amazed when through self-examination I realize how self-serving my motives frequently are. This is a tendency that we all need to fight until we land on heaven’s shores.
Many churches display substantial sacrifice in supporting missions, rescue missions, and other worthy causes. However, perhaps with regards to the issues above, the evangelical church is not winning the self-orientation fight. We are not being persecuted so church is not about persecution. Our babies are not being aborted so church is not about abortion. Our freedoms in this country are still pretty much intact, so church is not about politics.
The great challenge in being other-centered lies in the fact that self-centeredness is our default setting. Selfishness requires no initiative. On the other hand, being other-centered, that is loving, requires intentionality. This is especially true of issues that are not part of our tradition. Missions has held a significant role in our culture, and therefore we engage in that endeavor almost spontaneously. Concern and action regarding the issues of persecuted Christians, abortion, and political opposition, which are not part of our tradition require initiative, especially since they don’t affect us directly and immediately. Addressing these concerns requires the initiative created by love that enables us to rise above our self-centered default. It appears that the evangelical church in America currently does not possess sufficient love to overcome self-centeredness in these areas.
What World Do We Live in?
There exists the world consisting of spiritual and material realities. I heard a young man who at the top of a long and steep hill took off his bicycle chain, jumped on his bike, and headed down. The very abrupt termination of this trip killed him. Hard cold reality exists, and imagining otherwise does not change that.
However, few Americans live in that real world. Rather, the reality created by the media is the one that we tend to believe and inhabit. Therefore, if that media tells us that the Treyvon Martin trial is at the center of the universe by making it the consuming story for weeks on end, Americans tend to assign that level of significance to it. Likewise, what the media does not cover does not exist.
It must be stressed that this alternate reality is not only occupied by secular Americans, but by Christian Americans who imbibe from the same media sources. It is important to recognize that though Fox News may offer something of a different slant to news items, it is the major networks that establish the news narrative, defining the top story, etc., and Fox in almost every case follows their lead. Therefore, in determining what is important and what is not, the mainstream media control the agenda.
Consequently, we know that the persecution of Christians, abortion, and the destruction of Christianity by the left really do not exist, or if they do exist, they do not represent a cause of concern because the media virtually never mentions them. For example, the media has failed to mention the genocidal attack by Muslims against Christians in the Central African Republic across the past several weeks. Therefore, the American worldview does not include these atrocities. They are not actually occurring. We might glean some facts about them that we may store in cranial computer file labeled “Interesting Story,” but it is difficult for us to grasp the reality of these brutalities since they are not part of the media worldview.
This alternative reality finds added support from our educational institutions and entertainment media. A person can ingest 18 or more years of education without encountering these significant components of contemporary reality. And the entertainment media, if covering these stories at all, will usually take the opposite side, e.g. painting Christians as the aggressors in our society. Therefore, these issues must not exist or be matters of concern.
To the contrary, imagine if the evening news would report as their major story the rapings, beheadings, murderings via throwing people into wells, of Christians in Syria, including video of these events accompanied by audio of the screams. Imagine if this scenario were repeated night after night, including reporting occurrences from different places on the planet such as Nigeria, Somalia, North Korea, Burma, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Columbia, Egypt, and other locations. Imagine if the media would air videos of late-term abortions, fully developed babies being murdered in the process of their birth. And imagine if similar information would comprise elements of public education. Do we think then that these issues would make up significant components of our reality and worldview? There can be no doubt. I am also convinced that with such media attention these elephants were be invited into our churches.
Therefore, a major reason the church does not give entrance to the elephants of persecuted Christians, abortion, and the political assault on Christians is that the media have denied them space in our worldview.
However, the greatest impediment to the entrance of these elephants into the church sanctuary is slated for discussion in tomorrow’s post.