We have stopped believing the Bible. What we preach isn’t working because it isn’t true. The American evangelical church has replaced the doctrine of original sin with the myth of common sense. In so doing, we expect people to behave like Christians without knowing Jesus. Believing this myth, we have given the world too much credit and the Bible too little.
During my senior year of high school, I sat at my desk in my algebra class listening to the banter between a foreign exchange student and an American classmate. The Korean young lady used an English word that was unknown to the American student. The American student protested the use of the word that he didn’t know. The girl pulled out her vocabulary book from our English class and showed him that it was in our own text book and proclaimed that he ought to know it. He countered that just because it was in our text book didn’t mean that we would know the word. The foreign student valued mastery of the English language, the English speaking student did not. English was not special to us like it was to her. It was common to us so no extra effort needed to be expended in refining its use.
Likewise, believers take the Bible for granted. We think we know it inside and out, but what we know are key concepts, phrases, and stories. We have lost their relevant application to society at large outside of a salvation or moral context. We can explain the path to Jesus, but not the path to a stable nation.
The Bible Shaped Our World
America’s former Christian heritage undergirds our entire national system. Even though it has become far removed from that heritage, it was powerful enough to sustain even our current American culture. That sustenance is what we have mythologized as common sense.
The tragedy today is that the Christian heritage necessary to reestablish our national foundation is not even being taught by most Christians. The myth has become more powerful than the truth. When we blame the world for being the world thereby blaming sinners for sinning we empower the myth. It reinforces their bondage, instead of speaking the truth that sets them free from captivity.
God is not surprised by the sinfulness of man. He sent Jesus into the world not to condemn the world, but to set it free from sin and death. The world is already condemned. Nothing can make that any more real. But the truth can transform a condemned world into a redeemed world. Jesus made it possible and then handed us the keys to His Kingdom so that we can unlock His world and release it everywhere we go.
If it is not present in the social economic systems or geographical cities of this world, it is because we haven’t released the Kingdom in those places. If it was God’s job to restore the earth, it would have happened at the Resurrection. All things were made possible through Christ, but then He gave us that power so that we could do all things through Christ.
It does not matter what level of tyranny exists in a nation’s government. The Kingdom can make a radical difference no matter how evil the environment may be. We believe the myth when we think the world needs to get its act together for God’s glory to be revealed in our national systems. The Church does not need to take a more aggressive stand against the world. Our weapons are not of this world and neither are our enemies.
The Kingdom is demonstrated through our love, joy, hope, long suffering, peace, and goodness. Every demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit is a violent expression of the Kingdom. When we live contrary to the ruling spirits of this world we release the power of the Kingdom. Healing the sick, casting out demons, releasing the captives and binding up the broken hearted. This is the Kingdom life when it is born out of love.
Dispelling the Myth of Common Sense
As long as we believe there is common sense, we will have grounds to be offended at people who live like they don’t know the basic tenants of respectful behavior. Most people do not know. Others are too trapped in their own bondage to see how their behavior is affecting people, and even when they see it, they don’t know the way out. This is why love is not easily offended or angered. Offense reaffirms the hopelessness of the other person’s entrapment. Love lifts them out.
Most of the environments around us are not conducive to the Kingdom life. Sadly, church life can be as difficult a place as our work environment. No matter how dark the environment, the Kingdom lived out day after day will make a difference. The environment will have more light in it than it did before you showed up. Granted you will likely have a great deal of arrows to take to the chest before you begin to see the light dispel the darkness. You are a hostile presence to the darkness. You are a threat to its security. People won’t know why they are coming undone around you, but eventually you will be the safe person. You will be the one that they come to when their world is crashing because you never took offense at the arrows they threw or the dirt in their lives. This is what Kingdom living looks like.
The Gospel is powerful and true. Jesus can transform a nation with the same power He transforms a person when we go forth demonstrating the Kingdom. We are His Body on the earth. When we are properly aligned in His Body with Him as the Head we are an unstoppable force of transforming love.