Donald Miller is my favorite "bleeding-heart liberal" Christian writer. He does a good job of poking out the eyes of self-righteousness by simply admitting his own narcissism and self-pity.
Of his desire to own things and getting his identity and happiness from materialism, he writes: "I like things with buttons."
That's it. After all his gentle language that cannot help but entrance the reader, making them drop their well-trained defenses, he comes right out and admits his childish greed; suitable words have never been more aptly spoken by any boy of eight who's waiting for Christmas only to get his loot: "I like things with buttons."
So do I, Don. So do I.
As a fundamentalist (well, sort of a neo-fundy, actually), I find myself being tempted to wage war against the evils of our culture with "tha Wurd of Gahd"! And I note that THE "Word of God" namely Jesus Christ did not do this. Ever.
I am sorry I ever thought differently. So many good and concerned Christ-followers are being told of the failures of our American culture, that they can barely see or hear ANYTHING good about it if they don't take a breath and turn off conservative Christian radio. Now before I get any crowing from the decadent, the lost and the non-Christians, I've got to tell you flatly: you guys are NUTS. You need Jesus. NOW!
But though some of the things you do are decidedly dangerous, there is much greater danger for me and my conservative Christian brothers in demonizing you. I have had to listen to Christian after Christian after Christian tell me how BAD the world is, how LOST their family is, how MEAN their boss is, how AWFUL the future will be soon, and you know what?
That ain't news. That's complaining.
I've heard so much of this "oh-NOES-da-world-doesn't-luv-Jesus", that today on Christian radio a man came on who was upset about how "Christ" was being taken out of "Christmas" and how God was being overlooked at Thanksgiving - and I just reached over and shut the radio off.
Let me tell you EXACTLY why no one cares about God.
They never believed He was being good to them. They never saw His goodness. Furthermore, they never saw Christians obeying Jesus radically out of love. And this tactic, to get people - namely Christians - all upset so they do something about it? Well, yippee. Its a common writer's tactic. Here's what you end up with - weak and pitiful Christians who cannot love their enemies. They are too afraid of them.
I am serious. I wish I were kidding, because I stand so firmly entrenched on the Religious Right side, you cannot begin to mistake me for a fan of Anne Lamott (but I am. I've read three of her books). But as a sometime pastor, I have to see, smell, feel and taste the fear and anxiety and anger of these Christians who have been hurt by evil and are stuck in the "we must fight them!!" mode.
Don't they know that Christ is going to throw the Devil and his angels - his personal messengers - into Hell? Don't they know that the end of the story has been written?
Obviously not. That's why they can't do anything FOR Jesus. They are sure He has lost - well, just LOOK at our culture! Oh my!
Here's a fact: Jesus only changes cultures from within, starting with our hearts. And that is why I CAN go into the jail and preach, and why I CAN travel overseas to proclaim the Gospel. If Jesus cannot win my heart, and give me victory over my fears, why should I bother others?
No. I'm childish enough. The cure for all this nonsense is to follow Jesus and make myths by living radically, doing what no one else "in their right mind" would do.
That's the secret ingredient. Everyone can see it MUST be Jesus at work then. Neither I nor you nor any Christian can do this without Him.
Do you know why C. S. Lewis is still read today? It wasn't because he was brilliant.
It was because he was a brilliant man who put obeying Jesus Christ over his personal life. He lived a life no other Oxford don would dare. He wrote popular apologetics. He wrote satire on demonic temptation. He took care of another man's mother and stayed a bachelor for decades. He wrote children's stories AFTER writing great criticism - mark that, he graduated to writing stories for children. What does this all have in common? He got over his personal fears and did what no one expected.
The next time you hear how bad everything is and how we are spiraling downward as a nation, take it with a grain of salt. It probably is true (decadent empires have always died internally first)- but it is also true that Christ uses individuals to change empires. The most convinced atheist, the most carnal Christian can be transformed by Christ and used of God to shake not just our present culture, but all cultures over all time.
Stop thinking so small. Stop whining, too. No one is impressed by how offended or hurt you are.
Christ has you on a grand adventure for it is written, "He who began a good work in you will complete it on the coming day of Christ Jesus!"
Stop worrying about anyone else's story. Work on your own.
For God's sake.