Posted by: Jack Brown | November 12, 2012

Skyfall

(If you’re here hoping it’s a review of the new James Bond film, sorry. Haven’t seen it yet (but will soon).)

“President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.” –Robert Jeffress, First Baptist Church, Dallas quoted 11/8/2012

“In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Just like water in a pond, your mind should be at peace most of the time. And it should only react when something is thrown into it. Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? Water reacts exactly in proportion to the object thrown into it – with a big splash for a big rock, or a little ripple for a small pebble. And when the reaction is over, it goes back to a state of peace/calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact. Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does.” –David Allen, author and productivity guru

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” –Chicken Little

We all remember the story of Chicken Little, the panicky little bird who had an acorn fall on her head and wisely deduced that the sky was falling and the world was coming to an end. She gathers up all her bird friends and draws them into her panic, and they journey to warn the king that the “end is near.” The cunning Foxy Loxy, however, takes advantage of the stressed-out fowl and tricks them into his lair, where….well, things do come to an end, just not as Chicken Little predicted.

In the past week I have watched with amazement and concern the Christian response to last Tuesday’s Presidential Election. I have seen the Christian flag flying at half mast, countless tweets about “dark days ahead,” and extreme reactions like Mr. Jeffress’ above. I have had conversations with worried believers who fear intense persecution is just around the corner for Christians, and who express a belief that the American way of life is coming to an end, including the religious freedom we enjoy. And in the back of my mind…I hear, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

I know I am potentially angering some folks by comparing such responses to Chicken Little. I do not mean to belittle legitimate concerns that our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to people of faith, and I share with my friends the sadness that comes from watching many values we hold hear being openly ridiculed and tossed aside. And I grieve deeply for the ways our culture’s shifting sands erode the precious gift of life and community at the heart of God’s plan for humanity. But this belief that last week’s election was some sort of “final nail in the coffin” is, in my opinion, a completely disproportionate response, an overreaction that threatens to control us if we let it.

The Christian church has forecasted “dark days” before. Many things…elections, policies, cultural trends…have been seen by believers for centuries as harbingers of doom. Some have proven true, but many have not. But I keep coming back to a simple truth: until something happens, it hasn’t happened. But I’m seeing Christians across the country reacting as if the worst has already taken place, as if the writing is on the wall and nothing can change what’s going to come. And I’m just not there. God is bigger than that.

Yes, things are changing. They were changing before last Tuesday, they will continue to change. Some of the changes will be bad. Some might actually (*gasp!*) be good. But what happens in Washington, D.C. does NOT set the agenda for God’s kingdom, and what never changes is the call of the church to be the people of God in good times and bad. Our task is to respond appropriately to what God places across our path TODAY, not fret and worry about what might or might not happen tomorrow. Jesus himself said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34, NIV), and he said those words to people who would come to know what real persecution for their faith looks like. Is such persecution heading our way? I can’t say, but I can say that it isn’t here today.

Some will argue with me that the Bible encourages us to prepare for times of tribulation, that the prophets of the Old Testament often brought a word of warning to the people that difficult times were ahead, that Scripture encourages us to “live wisely” in light of the continued descent into darkness that precedes Christ’s return. But doesn’t “living wisely” include responding to things as they actually happen, not as they might? What if God has a great revival planned for the coming years…will we be able to recognize and respond to it if we are convinced last Tuesday rendered such a movement of God impossible (which…um, it didn’t)? And I would caution the church that wisdom would also remember that we, like Chicken Little, have an enemy who would seek to take advantage of our panic and fear. If we don’t want to be eaten alive, we need to take heed–satan would like nothing more than to render the church powerless in its obsession with what might or might not come out of Washington.

The sky is not falling, my friends. It may fall tomorrow, it may fall a year from now or a hundred or a thousand. But the timing of it is not determined by politicians or elections or cultural trends. It is determined by God, and I trust him with it.

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Responses

  1. I believe it was Martin Luther who said: “If I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today.” I think that he may have had a lot more to worry about in his time than we do today…

  2. I’ve never seen so much fear of the status quo. We survived the last four years, you’d think, at least, that the next four would be okay.

    There best advice I saw prior to the election was that we were really ‘firing’ Obama, if we voted against him. There are many leaders (at work, my kids school) that maybe I don’t agree with, or even think negatively about. But do I want to fire them? They have to serve a lot more than just me, and there is some wisdom, somehow, that they gained that position of power.

    It is interesting, given my above analysis, that one of the biggest reactions from the election is from someone famous for firing people. And not one thing he said was rational. Scary.

    I am not the firing type. I’m not the chicken little type. I like to observe, to absorb, and to ponder. May my stance always be like the water. May it be for all of us. Thanks for the post.


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