Gospel Contrasts in the Latest CT EditionWednesday, August 31, 2005
The best way to pass the time when I'm bone tired is to pick up the latest edition of Christianity Today (CT). After checking into my Day's Inn motel room last night in Pine Mountain, GA, I made the half mile walk up to one of America's finest dining establishments, Huddle House.
While I enjoyed being babied by the four plus waitresses waiting on me hand and foot, filling up my sweet tea every other sip, and calling me 'baby,' 'sugar,' 'honey,' and 'sweetie,' I was perusing the September 05 edition of CT. (I'd link to it here, but it looks like they haven't even uploaded it as the current edition on their website!)
I always start with the "Headlines." I was struck last night by two headlines.
The first was entitled "Pilgrims' Mixed Progress" (p. 27). This is a reflection of the fight for gospel basics in America. Commenting on the evangelical resurgence in the United Church of Christ (UCC), a resolution was passed at the July national synod which met in Atlanta. Per the headline, "it also passed a resolution affirming the person and work of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However, the body refused to add the affirmation to the ordination vows." Any surprise here? Especially when the other resolution they passed was endorsing homosexual marriage?
What really caught my eye, however, was the last paragraph. When the evangelicals in the denomination were questioned, "Why stay?" They responded, "We love an association with the UCC because of the wonderful creeds and catechism of the church, walking in the footsteps of the Puritans and Pilgrims." I'm sure both of those groups would have embraced the UCC and its recent 'resolutions' wholeheartedly! To associate the insanity of resolving an affirmation of the person and work of Jesus as Lord and Savior, coupled with the lack of affirming in ordination vows, with the Puritans and Pilgrims is beyond insanity.
In contrast, the second piece that caught my eye was "Mugabe's Bulldozers" (p. 29). President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has evidently been on a campaign to demolish the country's ghettos and shantytowns, driving away the urban poor, creating misery and devestation on the scale of a natural disaster, says the piece. Here's the paragraph that caught my eye, contrasting the gospel of the UCC in America with the gospel of the church in Africa.
"Locals are calling this the 'African Tsunami.' Despite warnings from the Zimbabwean government, churches are scrambling to help the estimated million refugees in a single day, caring for their needs."
Per one Christian worker,
"In some parts of Harare, people have gone to spend the nights in their local churches. People are squeezed into just about every available space. Churches have been openly warned not to help the 'refugees,' but now can you turn down someone who is hungry and homeless?"
The contrast is heart-rending for me personally. In the Disneyland called America, as John Piper refers to it, we are fighting to give men and women government and ecclesiastical permission to sanctify and affirm their homosexual passions. And in some circles, resolving to affirm the person and work of Jesus Christ is thought to be monumental.
Yet in the real world, as reflected in the Zimbabwean churches, believers are living the gospel of Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-17, and 1 John 3:16-18 and facing the threat of government persecution for it.
As I sit in this motel room, working this post, watching CNN's coverage of Hurricane Katrina, I wonder in vain I think whether or not the historical disaster that has occurred there will wake up the church, at least in that part of the world, to the gospel. I'm sure of it, because Jesus promised to build His kingdom and even the gates of Katrina will not prevail!
That said, I'm not sure how long it will last. Two months after 9/11 our country was back to 'normal.' And even as I watch the Hurricane coverage, the concern is all about "getting back to normal." Mine is a nation that is no longer effectively affected by disaster. In my view it will only take irrepairable and unrecoverable disaster on widespread scale in order to accomplish this kind of effectiveness.....the kind of disaster that is happening in Zimbabwe, or Sudan, or Rawanda. Perhaps then the church will be shaken into reality and stop chasing after sinful passions and start interpreting the gospel with lives that treasure Christ with every breath they take.