Previously, I’d commented on an article that posited a slightly different idol that afflicts Americans:
But after recent political upheavals that left a lot of Christians wringing their hands, I read a different article a Christian friend posted:
The sheer brazenness of the title was enough to suck me in, plus it’s CharismaNews, so it’s bound to have hyperbole galore.
I was not disappointed.
Or, actually, I was.
Like far too many articles in Christian sources today, the foundation rests on fear. Despite the fact the Bible tells us over and over NOT to fear, Christian media love to fan the fear.
And the fear this article fans is one I see rising everywhere: The fear of not having power.
I’d use the polysyllabic word powerlessness instead, but the “not having” carries a nuanced interpretation I think must be stressed. This is about control too.
Right now, American Christians of many stripes are scared to death that both they and the American Church are not in control of power.
Consider the following:
- Declining church attendance
- A string of losses in high-profile national, state, and local legal battles and protections
- A presidential race where no clear “Christian candidate” remains, in fact, the remaining candidates seem the polar opposite
Most interesting is the swiftness of this reversal of fortune. And it has been a dire and fast fall.
But here’s the thing…
We Christians look at patterns of events in the world and in the Church, and while we’re good at noticing them, we’re terrible at providing solutions because we misinterpret what is happening behind the scenes. Only later does it turn out that what we thought was A proves actually to be B.
So while gloom, doom, and The End get bandied about by Christian Chicken Littles driven by fear, I want to propose that our fear of judgment on America is wrong, and that the actual judgment is on the Church. I want us to consider that all these dark happenings are good because God may be breaking an idol in the Church.
And what is that idol? Well, I mentioned it already: Power.
But not all power. Instead, I think that God is forcing the Church to stop investing so much time, effort, and devotion to man-made, secular power.
The #1 form of secular power obsession in the American Church for the past 40 years has been political power. Guess what? The previous couple elections punched in the face the idea of the power of the Christian voting bloc, and the 2016 presidential race shot it in the head.
To this I say, good. I also say that Roe v. Wade didn’t just turn America into a wicked charnel house, but it ingrained in the Church the wrongheaded idea that the godly response must come primarily through political maneuverings, which may have set the progress of the Christian Church back by 40 years. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but in the wake of recent events, it seems crystal clear.
Some of that failure in politics comes from a declining church attendance. With that has come the fall of the über-pastor, and with him/her, the importance of the über-churches they pastor. And what accompanies that fall? A loss of man-made power. The media stops focusing on the same old Christian faces, and instead shoves microphones in the faces of other 15-minutes-of-famers.
Where does this leave the American Church? Pretty busted. Heck, we can’t even keep pervs out of bathrooms.
All that man-made, secular power? Gone.
And I firmly believe God has purposefully taken it away. Good for God.
So Christian, stop blaming this on the devil. Stop blaming this on evil groups and people. Stop blaming, period.
You see, a Church that relies on man-made, secular power is no Church at all.
This is the Church:
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Where is real power, Christian? In the Spirit of God. And honestly, in a supposedly charismatic generation, the Spirit of God and the power He alone brings has been #2 for a long, long time. God’s not going to let that be the case anymore.
This is a good thing.
The reason all the man-made, secular power sources are now failing Christians is because God wants them to fail so Christians will start getting serious about living by the Spirit, and not by manmade, secular power.
Feel a little naked right now? Honestly, that’s where we are as Church. Naked and exposed. Because we’ve been doing it wrong. And for a long time.
I hope a lot more starts to fail for us. Because perhaps then we’ll get serious about what it means to have no power in ourselves or in other men yet have all the power of the universe and beyond available to us.
We haven’t seen that in this generation. Heck, we haven’t seen that in a few generations.
Better start learning what it means to cultivate humble, Spirit-driven power, because that’s the only power that will get us through the days ahead.