Strangely, blogging seems to be a good thing for me. Whenever I post about something that is bothering me or puzzling me--be it mental, physical, or spiritual--it seems that the issue in question gradually improves after I've shared it on my blog. This may be partly due to the cathartic effect of writing itself, or the psychological release of public confession, or the prayers of the people who read my blog, or the synergy of interacting in the comment section and inbox, or the wise suggestions I recieve from readers. Whatever it is, I'm going to keep on blogging.
So, after promising myself this morning not to write anything profound, here' s a snippet of a serious thought from me. All my agonizing about being a conservative or being a liberal or whatever label you choose has mostly subsided in the past few weeks. Why? I reaffirmed what I've believed for a long time: The rubric through which I view life is missiological not political. Though I'm not now an "official" missionary, as I had once thought I would be, my heart is the heart of a missionary. I want to see people come to Christ. Anything else is, as someone wrote a long time ago, rubbish! "I count all thing as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord--and the surpassing joy of seeing others come to know him."
That means my goal is to share the gospel and build up the church--not reform society, save Western culture from decay, campaign against homosexual marriages, campaign against abortion, campaign to put prayer back in school, or whatever the next issue is. My goal isn't even to devote my time and energy to trade reform, environmental activism, stopping sexual trafficking, or ending unjust wars. Don't anyone misunderstand. I'm not saying that I'll never do any of the above activies. A few of them are very dear to my heart. But they are not my goal or my hope or my salvation.
Spelling this out helps to relieve the pressure I put on myself to clearly define myself and my views. Maybe it is my personality or maybe it is my status as a seminary student that causes me to feel the need to label myself clearly. Among people I have known, it's not uncommmon for me to be asked my opinion on each of the 5-points of Calvinism or my view of Scripture or my view of American politics. Nothing wrong with that. Serious conversation is more palatable to me than small talk. But I begin to feel queasy when I can not answer such questions with the same certainty I once had. Even worse is when a person falsely assumes that I hold a certain view and proceeds to speak and act on that assumption. That I have to choose whether to play the coward and feign agreement or risk speaking up and causing a misunderstanding.
As for the title of this post "Culture Warrior Gone AWOL," well, I sure hope that will be the story of my life. To be a culture warrior is not my desire. Even so, I've been so steeped in the philosophy of political and social activism combined with religious indignation that it is hard to uproot it from my mind. But I'm going to try. I want to be Christ-center and missions-driven. I want to invest in prayer, not politics. I want all people to see the glory of Christ, especially liberals, gays, Muslims and anyone else whom the conservative establishment sees as a threat to "our" culture.
Ours? What is ours? "This world is not our home," so goes the song, "I'm just a passing through." So what is ours, really? Certainly, Christ is ours. And what else? "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are of Christ and Christ is of God." (1 Corinthians 3:21-23) Though Paul wrote that in the context of chastizing the Corinthian church for their division into competing factions based on misplaced loyalty to different Christian teachers, I think it can apply to the current spate of seeking salvation in accurate labeling. Being conservative, being liberal, being American, being democratic, being part of the grand sweep of Western civilization--all of that is petty and silly stuff and not worth grasping. Because we have Christ. And in Christ we have all things.
"So no more boasting about men. . ."