“Wake Up! Strengthen the things that remain”

“The church serves the world by giving the world the means to see itself truthfully. The first question we must ask is not ‘What should we do?’ but ‘What is going on?’”

I believe this is a quote from Stanley Hauerwas, who taught theology at Duke University for many years. He has insightful vision for the church that can help us today. He also says the world is filled with “madness and irrationality” and that the church has the demanding task of trying to understand the world rightly, and face what it really is.

Too often the world makes too much sense to us. In the global North, people have been fed a steady diet of fear by politicians and media. And so, instead of – for example – welcoming refugees desperate for a safe home, politicians in a variety of countries call for a ban on certain groups and actually gain popular support for this. This is “madness and irrationality.”

The church must stand and fight against such madness. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

The world says, “These people are dangerous! Fight them! Ban them!” Jesus says, “Love your neighbor and even your enemy.” And: “Don’t love your own life. Instead, lose it for the kingdom’s sake, and you will gain the Kingdom.”

Which way will we choose? Jerry Falwell Jr of the USA recently promoted carrying guns at all times to Christian students at his university to “show ‘them’ a lesson if ‘they’ try anything.” John Piper, a prominent pastor and writer challenged Falwell, stating 9 biblical reasons why his idea is pointing Christians entirely in the wrong direction.

This shows it’s possible to “believe” in Jesus, but not “follow” Jesus. There’s a difference! The church must have spiritual wisdom to resist and destroy the “lofty arguments” (“bad ideas” says Bruxy Cavey, a Canadian Brethren in Christ pastor and speaker at the Mennonite World Conference Assembly) from popular culture which are raised against the knowledge of God. Thousands of Christians can be and are being led astray.

Biblical logic is clear: if Jesus was God with us, his call to love even our enemies is “knowledge of God”. If the world says “hate and ban and kill your enemy” then that is an “argument and lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.”

Revelation 3:2 – John writes to the Church of Sardis: “Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead.” Figure out “what is going on” before we decide what to do!