Have American Christians Lost their Ability to Win in Life?
Are We More Concerned with Winning Political Victories than Winning People?
In separating church from state, I think our forefathers in the United States were trying to create a level playing field, a place where all religions could compete equality for hearts and minds of the people.
So they made it work like this: Civil government would make the rules of the game as neutral as possible and provide a judiciary that would enforce those rules on the field. Then, all the religions on earth would have an equal chance to prove themselves on the gridiron. The goal was to attract people into the ranks of whichever religion offered a better model for living.
May the best religion win!
Christians had a distinct advantage in the early days because the European nations that colonized America had government-supported churches that people were forced to join. Spain, Portugal, and France supported Catholicism while England was firmly Protestant. So in this religious game, Christianity influenced the rules and calls on the field. Naturally, we easily won victory after victory, as mostly European immigrants joined our ranks. We grew to believe that our success was as much in the rules and officiating, as it was our ability to play the game on the field.
Then, things changed! A few secularists started interpreting the rules differently and a few neutral referees started making calls on the field that we were not in our favor. So we freaked out and decided that in order to win the game, we had to change the rules back in our favor. For some reason, we believed that victory is only possible if we can take over the rules committee and the referee’s union. Then we could go back to winning this game without much of a fight.
So instead of becoming better players on the field, we focused our attention on being rule makers and referees. In the meantime, opposing teams who put their players on the field were winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. Knowing they had no chance at changing the rules of the game, they focused their efforts on winning where it matters. The more we lost on the field, the more convinced we were that the rules needed to change and the referees were being unfair. And the more attention we gave to rules and referees, the more we lost on the field. It has become a vicious cycle.
Instead of putting better players on the field and using our natural strengths to our advantage, Christians in America decided the best strategy was to manipulate the game from the top-down. So we focused more of our attention on getting our people in office and less time training them how to live in such a way that attracted people to our way of life.
The public took notice. They turned up their nose at our political achievements and said, “No thanks. If that’s all you got to offer, I’m better off somewhere else.” And who could blame them? By all indicators, those professing Christianity in America were no happier than their unbelieving counterparts. We complained about the same things, divorced at the same rates, took the same amount of antidepressants and nerve pills, got angry and cussed over the same personal issues, hated our bosses with equal fervor and fought with our families just like everybody else did.
In the meantime, seeing our eagerness to become politically powerful, crude politicians manipulated naïve church leaders, speaking their language, attending their services and claiming their faith as their own. Jesus said in Luke 16:8, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” How true this proved to be. While politicians promised the church a win, all we got in return is the joy of being a considered a political pawn and voting block come Election Day.
We will not win this game by changing the rules. We cannot let ourselves believe that referees will win or lose this game for us. Is our God that small? We can only win this game by attraction. Right now we are losing so badly on the field that no amount of rulemaking and refereeing in our favor will turn the tide. We need a change of strategy. We have to understand our strengths and take advantage of those things that got us here in the first place.
Christianity was birthed 2,000 years ago in a nation under martial law during foreign occupation. For most of its history, our faith has thrived under hostile conditions. It has surpassed all nations, governments, monarchies, and empires over that time, expanding under persecutions from, despots, dictators, socialists, monarchs, oligarchs, autocrats and every other form of government known to man. We outlasted, outlived and outgrew every other empire, nation, and country on earth. We didn’t need help from any government to win this game. We knew that God was on our side and we had the goods. People were attracted to what the church had to offer. We didn’t need government assistance. We knew that Jesus was Lord and we were destined to win!
But American Christians don’t think this way anymore. For some reason, we think we need the help of the rules committee and officiating crews to win this game. For some reason, we have come to believe we need government’s help to win this contest. Why do we think we need their help, anyway? Have we lost our confidence in the ability of our team to win this game regardless of the odds? Why are we trying to make civil government look more Christians when that’s the church’s job? Do we think we are incapable of winning unless we have the judges and officials in our hip pocket? Have we forgotten that our team plays best under pressure? Have we come to the place that we don’t think we can win this contest unless we are writing the rules and calling the penalties?
If America turns from its Christian faith, it won’t be the fault of civil government. That blame will lie squarely on the church. And before we pass out our get-out-and-vote flyers, we need to be reminded that the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans is won and lost on the field of everyday life, not in the voting booth. We are so worried about making our civil government look more “Christian” while countless churches and professing people aren’t even acting like Christians? Maybe it’s not the government’s responsibility to make America great again. Maybe it’s the church’s job!
Have we become like a sports team that’s too busy blaming the officials and rules committee for our failures to see the real reason why we are losing? Have we forgotten where this game is played? For a generation now, we have looked to the oval office, halls of Congress and the courtrooms of America to find victory. We think that if we win there, we win the game. But that’s not true. Victory comes from winning the hearts and minds of the people. That’s the only game that matters!
I fear we have forgotten how to play this game on the field. If we really believed in the sovereignty of God and the superiority of our faith, then why do we think we need civil government to do our job for us? Why do we keep biting our fingernails and getting nervous every election cycle? Why are we so passionate about political issues and so silent on social issues? Is it because deep down we are more concerned with controlling people with legislation than serving them with compassion? Who do we really believe rules this nation? Since when do we look to government for help more than God? Especially when the bulk of Christian history is filled with our team’s victories taking place under the most extreme circumstances. We don’t need anyone’s help! We have God. Isn’t that enough?
Why do we see the world through a political spectrum, dividing the population up into conservatives and liberals when Jesus saw only sheep and goats, wheat and tares, saved and lost? Is being a member of a political party one in the same as being a member of the Body of Christ? Have we confused the two? Has our passion for being the church been replaced with our passion to win elections?
Paul said, “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges (I Corinthians 5:12-13).” He was more concerned about the church than the outside world. He admitted having no desire for creating opinions about those outside the church.
In Revelation 19:7 it says, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Notice that the bride was focused on making herself ready for the Groom, not anyone else. This is what it means to put players on the field. There is a beauty about the Bride of Christ that naturally attracts people when we are adorned for our Groom.
I Peter 4:17 says, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God…” Peter reminds us that God’s greatest concerns are inside His church. If that’s true, then why are our greatest concerns located inside the halls of Congress, Supreme Court, and Oval Office?
If we can’t field a team of believers that are attractive enough to win the war on the field, then why are we wasting our time on the rules committee and referees? Christianity has always thrived no matter the political conditions when committed Christians have lived in such a way that their friends and neighbors were drawn to their lifestyle. That’s how we win!
It seems to me that I read more posts about Christians being worried about loosing their Second Amendment rights then about loosing an entire generation to drug addiction? Is keeping our assault rifles really that important to our faith? Since when did the church need the Second Amendment or even the First Amendment, for that matter, to do our job and win this game? Since when does the church need civil government to do our job for us? Have we gotten to the place that we think we need the Constitution more than the Bible? Is the Supreme Court more important to us than the throne room of God? Is winning a Senate seat more important than winning souls? Is passing legislation superior to answered prayers? Are seats in Congress more precious than the Mercy Seat? Do we really need to manipulate the rules and control the referees in order to win this game?
No! We don’t! Not when our Savior and His apostles won the hearts and minds of an empire that sought to hunt them down, shut them up, put them in prison and kill them!
No! Not when our side has been winning this game under the most horrendous conditions known to man for the last 2,000 years!
No! Not when our brothers and sisters around the world are winning this game by standing up to the most cruel and inhumane treatment without a flinch!
No! You and I have to once again learn how to play this game and win on the field. We have to learn how to win the hearts and minds of the people in our hometowns and neighborhoods. Quit looking for a favorable call from the referee. You don’t need that to win. No rule change is going to bring the victory we need. You and I are going to win those victories like the church has always won them!
Get to know your Savior and act like a player that has the confidence to win in life! Know that you’re on a winning team no matter the political environment! Join yourself to a team and love one another while extending that love to all your friends and neighbors. Do this and see how many people are attracted to our team. His is how we win. It’s always been that way. Armed with love, we have the ability to walk onto the field against any odds and win!
We got this!
We’ve been doing it for 2,000 years!