The Church of Solutions

The church must let go of its fixation with laws and fix its eyes on the real solution: person-to-person transformation.

Ask those who know me and they’ll tell you that my eyes have always been too big for my stomach! Both literally and figuratively I’ve consistently bitten off more than I can chew. Whether it’s been with sports, school, food, or any of my unmet New Years expectations, I usually overestimate my abilities and my limits.

The church has done a similar thing with its fixation with culture, politics, and society. With an eye for power and a misconception of what real influence looks like, Christians have allowed their agendas to be coopted by politicians whose allegiances are at best hopelessly divided between money and ideology. Somewhere in the crowded heart of a Congressman, I would imagine, there is a real concern for their constituents. But every human being is far too flawed to be a real Messiah.

Take a look at the recent response to #BlackLivesMatter. Our national narrative has become a narrative of either/or and never both/and. We are forced to pick a side between those who are concerned for minorities lives and wellbeing in this nation versus those who are concerned for the preservation of this nation’s founding principles and convictions.

(First, just as an aside, notice how these two things are actually not in contradiction! One can desire and fight for this nation to become an equal opportunity provider for all regardless of their socio-economic background, and that is in line with our nation’s convictions!)

While the Christian voting bloc is noticeably diversifying to fall more evenly among the right and the left, it still seems to the casual observer that most Christians unsurprisingly vote Republican. Avid Christian pro-lifers and moral traditionalists have always found common language with those who have a more conservative outlook on the world. And yet, the Christian left has become likewise a vocal proponent for those who are concerned with progressing into a nation whose day-to-day operations are more consistent with its founding principles.

In spite of all of this, the main goal of the Kingdom of God remains overlooked. The reason for this is simply this: no amount of legislation will ever usher in the reign of King Jesus.

This should have been obvious to us from Scripture. If strict and legalistic observance of the Mosaic law couldn’t have brought in God’s Spirit, then how is it that we thought that Constitutional Amendments and Congressional legislation would be any different?

In Matthew 23, Jesus warned us:

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”

Matthew 23:1-4

Contrary to our human impulses, Jesus warns those who follow him to avoid the legislative seat. The reason for this is obvious: it places a heavy load on people’s shoulders.

Now, I don’t want to be misleading here. The context into which Jesus is speaking is not exactly parallel to our own, but it is at least strikingly similar. The Pharisees were instructing their people to go above and beyond in their observance of Torah in the hopes that the people’s national righteousness would coerce God to descend from heaven and reign in Jerusalem. But this is also very similar to the Christian outlook on America: that if we can vote in enough Christian laws then we will ensure God’s blessing remains on our country and we’ll continue to be numero uno on the world stage.

Tangentially, but importantly, Christians are concerned that we’ll become persecuted if we lose too much influence, that our nation will slide into sin, and ultimately that we’ll invite God’s judgment on all of us.

But returning to Jesus’s original warning to us, we are not to sit in the legislative seat but rather to help the people.

He continues in the same chapter:

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Matthew 23:11

And he says just a few chapters later:

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40

The greatest, most contributive member of God’s Kingdom is not he who legislates righteousness, but who embodies the righteousness of God by their service to the least of these! It’s not that these political causes are not worth fighting for, it’s that fighting for them by the voting ballot is not enough!

We can legislate all we want, but the heart of our nation remains untouched.
We can outlaw abortion, but it will still happen in back alleyways.
We can preserve traditional marriage, but the LGBTQ community will remain.
We can implement stronger boarder laws, yet underlying racism continues.

What, then, is the solution for making a better world? Ironically enough, it’s you and me. The church itself is the solution. It is the testament to the worldly powers of a better day dawning, of a new creation that is beginning to bud, of a new humanity that is overwriting the sins of the previous one.

It is the church, and only the church, that possess the spiritual power and authority to go against the way the world is and instead bring about the kingdom of God. This is one of the meanings of what Paul describes when he says:

“God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 3:10-11

If you didn’t catch that, here’s what Paul’s point is: God’s glory, wisdom, and authority would become seen and known through the church! That in triumphing over racism in communities, the world’s leaders would take pause and consider. That in triumphing over unplanned pregnancies with grace and adoption, the world’s lobbyists would be defanged.

How are we to accomplish this? Well, that’s a longer conversation than just one post, but let me put these ideas forward:

If you care strongly about abortion, then adopt an unwanted child before you protest and lobby against Roe v. Wade.

If you care strongly about traditional marriage, then model celibacy either as a single person or a married person by spending time, touch, teamwork, and transparency with someone with same-sex attraction before you go to the voting booth.

If you care strongly about immigration reform, then consider inviting an immigrant family from the very countries you are afraid of to dinner in your home before you seek stronger border laws.

If you care strongly about racial equality, then consider befriending an older, white, conservative couple, and inviting them to dinner with some minority culture friends of yours.

We have yet to see the church in America mobilized to address the real societal problems we face. But the more we claim the authority that is our birthright in Christ, to triumph over the world, the flesh, and the devil, we will no longer delegate the world’s problems to our politicians, but instead shoulder them as problems the church alone can fix.

Author: Ryan Lunde

Young Adults Pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church Escondido

5 thoughts on “The Church of Solutions”

  1. Ryan, I think the main idea you present in this piece is excellent. If individuals in the church (and the church itself) were to focus more on building community and exercising compassion, as opposed to asserting influence through political power, it would undoubtedly be a benefit to all. As you stated, legislation rarely gets to the “heart” of the issue, and the church seems to want, first and foremost, to be a resource for “the heart” (if that all makes sense).

    I feel like I must say, I find it unfortunate that you appear to subscribe to an anti-LGBTQ belief (I know this sounds harsh, but I don’t know what else to call it.), because your foundational idea is such a good one. I know you don’t openly discuss your views on LGBTQ people in this piece, but as a survivor of conversion therapy, I know what beliefs are usually implied by the phrase “same-sex attraction,” and by the idea that people can have celibacy modeled to them through platonic friendship. If my assumption is incorrect, I sincerely apologize.

    ANYWAY, I didn’t come here to start a conversation about that, but based on my own history, I would have been remiss not to be open and honest about it. What I DID come here to say, is that I hope people read this piece, consider your words, and put them into action.

    Best,
    -Daniel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Daniel! Thank you so much for interacting with my post! As I’m dusting off my blog here and getting back into the habit of writing I’m hoping to be posting on a weekly basis. I read your most recent post on Nick Cannon and Richard Griffin and appreciated your thoughtful and insightful critic! I look forward to engaging more!

      Thank you for your kind words — and for your criticism! If you want any clarity on what my specific beliefs on LGBTQ are I would point to the work a close friend of mine, Richard Padilla, has produced. Here are some immediate resources you may appreciate to lend light on what I think and believe:

      – The 4 T’s And the Church (http://www.the4tsandthechurch.com/)
      – LGBTQ & The Church Podcast Episode 1 (https://open.spotify.com/episode/2WCknF93tbBuY0ubaoNY63?si=VuT8i-7pRBqYj22sv_0wCQ)
      – LGBTQ & The Church Podcast Episode 2 (https://open.spotify.com/episode/5rAEAyQakfypfvFFP42Tt5?si=5MY6N0_qQgGpDF4McQeRtw)

      For the record I am totally opposed to reparative therapy but I am also a believer in biblical Christianity. I’m by no means done in exploring this topic and am continuing to engage and wrestle with everything having to do with LGBTQ and biblical Christianity. I would love to hear more from you and your own journey. Maybe a further dialogue between us would be helpful at some point!

      Thanks so much for commenting!

      – Lunde

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  2. I’m absolutely open to further dialogue in the future. Thank for the resources; I will (sincerely) check them out.

    I do have a short post on my own coming out story. It is very condensed, but would serve as an introduction to my journey.
    https://danieljnickolas.wordpress.com/2020/06/11/escaping-shame-finding-pride/

    No pressure to check it out! I know people lead busy lives. Otherwise, I also look forward to engaging with more of your work. Consider me a subscriber.

    Like

    1. Wow thank you for that story! You’ve left me a lot of things to consider… Would you send me any of those resources that you think would be helpful? I’m eager to learn more.

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      1. I listened to those podcasts. Richard has some really great points about the need for friendship and community (and what that looks like). A lot of what he’s said could benefit most people

        I did the bulk of my independent research on this issue in my college library, meaning most of what I read were physical, academic books that aren’t as readily available to the general public. I also did a poor job of writing down / remembering the exact names of those books. However, I did watch a lot of YouTube videos as well. Here are two I remember, that I think may interest you. This first video is presented from an evolutionary stand point (I never know where Christians stand with evolution), but I think the concept that homosexuality seems to exist for specific needs within a community is worth considering regardless. The second one is far less scientific, but there’s a lot in that video worth considering.

        Liked by 1 person

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