One of the things that
troubles me about American society—about North America, and I include Canada in
this, and Western European Christian society, to some extent, but it’s stronger
here; it’s stronger here because of America’s particular heritage—there is a
great deal of anger on the American Right at the moment. Have I thrashed this
one over with you before? Let me just say a little bit about it, because it is
troubling. It’s hard to know what to do.
If you want to make a lot
of money with a Christian book in this country, write a book that says what’s
wrong with America, listing all the bad things that you possibly can on the
Left, demonize the Left. It’ll sell like hotcakes on the Right. If you want to
raise money for Focus on the Family, or a whole lot of other institutions that
are really good institutions in many ways, if they really want to raise a lot
of money in a hurry, let them tell you the worst horror stories of the month.
The money flows in!
Now the reason it does is
because there is so much in this society that feels—with a certain amount of
justification—that all those nasties on the Left are taking away our heritage!
They’re perverting our schools! They’re overthrowing principles of jurisprudence!
They’re making the city unsafe! And so there’s anger—there’s anger seething
through the whole land.
Now contrast that with
the first Christians taking the gospel in the Roman Empire. They were nobodies.
They didn’t have anybody taking away their heritage. They were out to take over
the heritage. They looked around and saw an extremely pluralistic empire, and
they said with Caleb, in effect, “Give us this mountain.” And they kept
witnessing and kept getting martyred, and so on, and there was a revolution,
finally—a spiritual revolution.
But we can’t do that
today. At least we find it very difficult, because we’re so busy being angry
all the time that at the end of the day not only do we lose our credibility
with people on the Left—they start demonizing us back—but we have no energy or
compassion left to evangelize them. When you’re busy hating everybody, and
denouncing everybody, and seeking political solutions to everything, it’s very
difficult to evangelize. Isn’t it? Very hard to be compassionate, to look on
the crowds as though they’re sheep without a shepherd, very hard to look on
them like that when they’re taking away “my heritage.” Do you see?
Yet at the same time,
because it is a democracy, there are things we ought to be doing to draw the
line here and there, even if you understand the laws don’t finally engender
justice. They might preserve it for a while. But finally they’re all broke, and
you have to change the laws. There are things we ought to be doing. There are
faithful things we ought to be doing…
But at the end of the
day, if you can’t do it with compassion, and gently, and leave the doors open
for evangelism, boy, you destroy everything. I think one of the devil’s tactics
with respect to the church on the Right today is to make them so hate everybody
else that at the end of the day they can’t be believed anywhere, not even the
proclamation of the gospel.