Pastors Column -- We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us
"David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, 'As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! Then Nathan said to David, 'You are the man!" 2 Samuel 12:5,7.
A recent letter to the editor proposed that the decline of faith in God and Christian values in America is due to the state of our public school system. As much as I am attracted to the idea of placing the blame on others, I would like to propose a different reason for our condition: to paraphrase the words of an old Walt Kelly cartoon (Pogo), I have "met the enemy and He is Us."
Jesus told his disciples people would know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. Is that how Christians are known in our society? Or, are we more associated with what we are against than what we stand for? We can't even blame those fringe elements who wave signs at funerals for all of our problems, either. The fact is, the average person sitting in the pew is just as much to blame for the mess we are in than anyone else.
Christian author Craig Groeschel compiled an entire book of ways the modern Christian, who claims to believe in God, lives as if God doesn't exist. "The Christian Atheist" discusses a dozen different ways we deny God through the way we live.
Brennan Manning observed, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians ... who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and then walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what the unbelieving world finds truly unbelievable."
Larry Alex Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation (a Christian foundation that did a study listening to the stories of student atheists) quoted one young atheist who said: Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change [the lives] of others. I haven't seen too much of that.
I propose that if the world is not responding to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ, it may be largely due to the fact that those of us who are delivering it have not allowed it to change US.
Renowned Indian philosopher Mahatma Gandhi reportedly said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Therein, lays the problem: we are so unlike the One we claim is our Lord.
In the scripture at the beginning of this article, I made reference to the story of David and his indiscretion with another man's wife. When the prophet Nathan put his crime in the terms of someone else's misbehavior, David was outraged and demanded retribution. The Church today has every reason to be outraged. The values we cherish have been trampled upon and the Gospel we love has been undermined. But when we are tempted to try to find a place to fix the blame, we should hear the words of the ancient prophet:
"You are the man!"
Or, if you prefer, hear the words of the modern cartoonist: "We have met the enemy and he is us."