Our nation is now at the beginning of a period that often becomes dominated by politics. It is a time when the political powers attempt to ‘woo’ both secular people and church-going Americans to vote for a presidential candidate. Both parties will attempt to ‘win the Evangelical vote’ if possible. Most of the time Christians are largely ignored in our culture, but for a little while they are treated as a legitimate voting bloc, and each political party will try to appeal to those who identify with the Christian faith. Sadly, this is a time when the culture wars tend to go into hyper-drive. Some aspects of the culture wars are legitimate battles between various worldviews – but some aspects of the culture wars are simply about slinging mud and setting our hearts and minds on things that tear us all down rather than building anything up.
CT (Christianity Today) Magazine had a helpful introduction in the October edition by CT President Harold Smith. In his article he calls the church to rise above the fray in order to give the world an alternative to the “attractive heresies” of the moral relativists. He calls us to hold up a “Beautiful Orthodoxy” – a way of being Christian that models both truth and grace. I want to share a bit of it with you here:
We live in an angry and confused world. The tone of our rhetoric, across most media and even behind some closed church doors, is more rage than redemption, more disgrace than grace.
You’ve seen it and heard it yourselves! On websites where attacking individuals and movements is second nature; and on social media where shameless epithets leave helpless targets scarred. Making matters worse, the truth of our convictions—the truth of God’s Truth—seems increasingly worn down by attractive heresy on one side and ugly orthodoxy on the other. In the end, both options are destined to leave more of God’s creation without hope.
Fewer people, including those raised in the church, consider biblical Christianity a viable worldview that causes individuals and cultures to flourish. But in the deserts of our times, God still fashions rivers that make our hearts glad (Ps. 46:4). And in a world under assault by the Evil One, he plants his church, and leads ministries like CT, and inspires causes like Beautiful Orthodoxy.
We believe that when it is lived faithfully and fearlessly, Beautiful Orthodoxy can and will boldly demonstrate for all that the Truth results in freedom and flourishing for the church and all the communities and cultures the church intersects. And those are the stories we want to tell more and more in the days ahead.
I appreciate this description of our calling. Our most important task as followers of Jesus is to tell the Greatest Story of all – that God became a man and died for our sins and was raised up alive again so that we can have eternal and abundant life in him. The smaller stories can sometimes distract us from this one Great Story – smaller stories include who is president of our country, and which political party has control of our congress. The more we make politics into the most important story, the smaller our souls become. The bitterness of the vitriol on the web and on our TV screens tends to make us bitter and small and narrow – it tends to rob us of peace and joy as we drink from its ceaseless flow.
I hope and pray that Westminster will not allow the bitterness of the culture wars to infect our calling to tell the One Great Story of Jesus through our words and our deeds. I hope and pray that we can be a model of Beautiful Orthodoxy as we live and speak with both grace and truth.
As we celebrate the season of Advent, we are invited to gaze upon the beautiful child given by God to save us from our sins — O Come let us adore him. We adore the newborn king because he is God with us – Emmanuel. We adore the newborn king because he brings both grace and truth to heal the nations and to heal our broken lives. O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.