An entire generation of Christians are feeling uncertain these days. Having put their hopes in a political solution to society’s ills they are realizing that maybe all the lobbying, letter writing, protesting and voting was for naught. This goes for both sides of the aisles.
I have several friends and a brother that do not vote. They’ve stayed away from politics and they seem quite content. (Although a couple of them have no problem sniping at politicians, which seems incongruous to me.)
It’s easy to see their discontent. When you combine the numbers of congregants of God-fearing churches that embrace Catholic, Protestant and non-denominational churches across this country, there ought to be a counterforce against the rage of modern culture that is hell-bent on self-destruction and vulgarity.
Name the issue – abortion, gay marriage, drug use, decency – and Christian influence seems to be practically nil.
I have been wrestling with all of this, questioning my political allegiances and matching them up to my heavenly aspirations. And I’m finding that the two do not always agree. And so, I’m looking for answers.
What a sixth-century monk can teach us about modern living
I read recently about the Benedict Option. The term was coined by Rod Dreher and he advocates that we learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia , a sixth-century monk who discovered how to live his faith in community in the midst of a collapsing Roman Empire.
This is an overly simplistic summary, but the idea is to build local church communities that extend beyond traditional worship, promoting Christian classical schooling and strengthening family bonds and interactions with other believers. You do so to the point where you don’t need the society at large and you can disengage from its politics and struggle for power.
A city on a hill – what it really means
What would it be like if we just lived the Christian life and let the world do their own thing? We don’t protest. We don’t engage. We don’t struggle.
The idea is that the Christian way of living and our natural society will draw people, even as Jesus called us the “city on a hill” and “salt and light” in a untasteful and dark world.
Dreher suggests that “serious Christian conservatives no longer live business-as-usual lives in America, that we have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them.”
My brother has withdrawn to just such a community. And there are others who are flocking to various home-school, home-church solutions. Not all of them are healthy, as protecting against the world’s influence sometimes severs family relations and leads to a paranoia of the world.
My friend Glynn Young recently wrote about the Benedict Option. He is convinced that “Dreher isn’t arguing that Christians abandon the culture and seal themselves up in conservative Amish-type communities, or build a Christian ark to escape the coming deluge. He’s not even saying that the culture is beyond redemption.”
Glynn, as always brings great balance and you should read his full analysis and review of the book.
Here’s where I stand.
Dreher is onto something, a calling to the First Tenants of what it means to follow Christ.
But unlike some interpretations, I don’t think we need a full retreat.
Tonight I went to a political launch party of a friend, a fine woman who believes her calling is to be light in a dark place.
And we should continue to go into Hollywood, Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Main Street and live our lives the way Christ told us to. We follow Him first and let society flow from there.
The problem the last 40 years is that we have put far too much faith in politics.
For all those who hoped Democrats would be the Christian solution, they were sold out by identity politics and pandering. For those who hoped Republicans would be the hope, they are realizing that it’s really just the same old, same old. Power, influence and money are corrupting forces on both sides.
Sure we will often hear the right words, but in the end Christians are really just a voting block. That’s it.
It won’t be long before the very core of Christian beliefs will be called hate speech. Remember the day when you read these words. The world will be at odds with everything we do. How do I know this? Because Jesus promised it.
“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers.” (Luke 21.1)
And John says, “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3.13)
We should rid ourselves of the notion of hobnobbing with the political elite, of being invited to dine with the rulers and having them listen to our deepest concerns. We should not align ourselves too closely with the powers that run this world because in the end it us that will compromise and not them.
But neither should we disengage.
So I’m looking for the right balance. And a few people who will join me.