I started writing this post from a place of frustration. I wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 words speaking my mind about how the source of the problems in this world are a result of a dormant Church. The more I wrote, the worse it sat with me though and so I decided not to publish it. And I’m so thankful I didn’t. My thoughts on the topic stem from the many news articles and legal decisions that have been passed down in recent times. Every topic from transgender rights and the topic of gender confusion to gay marriage, our culture’s perception towards genders and relationships seem to be flipping upside down. I’m sure that last sentence will upset some, but to properly frame any debates on the subject let me say this: I will gladly listen to any opinions patiently and respond in love, but there is no evidence to convince me to change my opinion on the above topics.
Our world is at a critical point and defining time in our history. History books are filled with these world changing and defining moments since humans started recording history. It seems as though every generation has that one moment which future generations will remember them by. Some generations are known for positive world change such as enacting the Magna Carta or defeating a tyrannical maniac in Germany, while others are known for defending the right to own another human being or supporting that aforementioned tyrannical maniac. As I look around and read the news though, I can’t help but think every day has the potential to act as a defining moment of our generation that will set the course for generations to come. The frustrated post that I mentioned earlier was written from the perspective of me asking “where is the Church in these moments?”
I see men legally using the women’s restroom and high school boys “self-identifying” as high school girls, claiming it as their right to use the girls’ locker room after gym class and I wonder where the Church is. I see thousands of babies being aborted daily, their bodies either discarded like week old left overs or sold for research like bacteria grown in a petri dish and wonder where the Church is. I see families being ripped apart by addictions, the kids growing up feeling hopeless and helpless and I wonder where the Church is.
I’ll tell you where the Church is. The Church is in South Carolina. My wife and I began our journey toward foster-dom around this time last year and it’s been an interesting ride thus far. We have invested countless hours in training courses, renovating our house, purchasing furniture, and preparing our hearts to love these kids from tough places. Earlier this year we received our license and have fostered several families of kids so far. It’s been exhausting and it’s been funny. It’s made me cry and it’s made me laugh.
As I was pondering where the Church is in all of the chaos we see today I had the honor of attending the baptism for one of these kids we’ve had the privilege to love. It wasn’t just Joy and I there to support and love this girl though. Her foster family was there, her two siblings and their different foster families were all there, her two case workers were there, and most importantly, her biological family were there. We all looked and cheered on as she was baptized and I suddenly understood why I felt uncomfortable submitting my earlier frustrated post. I was supposed to wait for this moment. It was in this moment when I suddenly understood: the Church is right here. As this family in crisis posed for a photo with the 30 some-odd Christians who have come alongside them, I finally understood that the Church is alive and well here. The Church showed up.
I think it’s a picture that is best described by a commercial for the Marine Corps from several years ago. If there’s one thing the Marines do well it is marketing. How else can you explain their adept ability to get young people to sign up for such horrible living conditions? This particular commercial depicts a Marine running across an open field towards a smoke-filled, chaotic city while listening to nothing but the sound of his boots and breathing and distant gun fire. The tag line for the commercial was “Which way will you run?”
So, where is the Church? The Church is wherever we decide to get in the fight and run towards the smoke and chaos. It is difficult for me to read all of these terrible news stories and not become disheartened but I am perpetually encouraged by hearing stories of the Church showing up in the midst of someone’s chaos while loving them too much to leave them where they are. The first step in this fight is to simply get off the sidelines. Here’s a few truths about my faith that have helped me to be encouraged:
- Remember that the story isn’t over. When I see the dysfunctional world around me, I have to remember that this story is not a tragedy. The world will only get more ridiculous and I can’t stop that, but what I can do is get off Facebook and go love someone.
- Show up. Everyday is more important than the last for Christians to simply show up. A Mongol named Timur once said that it is better to be present with 10 men than absent with 10,000. So get off the sidelines and into the game.
- Choose Love. One of the reasons the world has progressed the way it has is that the Church was dormant for so long, content to stay in their beautiful buildings. So I’ve got to remember to live my faith like I mean it.
Remember that the story isn’t over. Show up. Choose Love.