Rev. Jason Blanton
For a while, some time in the 80's I think, these bumper stickers and tags became popular. "God is my co-pilot." It's well-meaning enough, until you start to realize that if God is the co-pilot, then you are actually at the controls. So of course, next came the reaction, "if God is your co-pilot, switch seats!"
I think, at this point we need to admit that as American Christians, God has indeed become our co-pilot. As we have spent what seems like the last 2 years (or more) fully dug into the trenches of the latest American culture battle, one of many in this 30+ year culture war, I fear we have allowed ourselves to slip further and further into irrelevance.
This isn't another blog about gay marriage. Not really. Its about how this latest round of bickering is a symptom of a much deeper problem, a problem that is endangering the very soul of the American Church.
If I were to ask a Catholic brother or sister, "who or what sets the agenda for your church?" They may respond, "the Pope," or perhaps answer with something like the accumulated tradition of 2000 years of Christianity.
If I were to ask a Protestant, particularly an Evangelical, they will say "the Bible!"
Perhaps, if I were to ask a more charismatic brother or sister, they may say "The Spirit."
None would say our culture, or our political leaders, or "the world." Yet, here we are engaged in the latest round of "defending the faith" because we are reacting to what is going on around us. Don't believe me? I personally stood in a lunch line, waiting to make a sandwich on a mission trip in Grifton, NC, and had a fellow pastor chastise me for being affiliated with CBF. "They are too tolerant of the gays (his words)" My response was, "why is homosexuality so much worse than greed or idolatry or any of the other number of sins we seem to ignore?" His answer - "The gay AGENDA!" Ask one of the many pastors at the forefront of the argument against gay marriage why their church, or their organization spends so much time recently talking about homosexuality, and they will say something along the lines of "the homosexual agenda." "THEY are trying to make their lifestyle mainstream, so we have to talk about it."
Really? So our churches are led, not by the Spirit, or the Word, or even our tradition? They are instead simply a reactionary movement against the latest of whatever "agenda" we think is attacking us?
Let’s not forget how Jesus reacted when He was being attacked. He didn't suit up for a culture war, or a real war - he put a guy's ear back on his head, and then put Himself on a cross. Jesus wouldn't let the culture of nonstop violence and war ruin the Gospel. The Kingdom was too important to waste on the ways of men.
Jonathan Martin, a fellow Charlotte pastor, recently wrote a tremendous blog about "Gender, race, and Pentecost," in which he pointed out what the American church hasn't yet realized - we are no longer the center of the Christian world. The Spirit is moving in places we have never heard of, in ways we can't imagine, and we are missing out - because we are taking our instructions from politicians, newscasters, and various five-star culture warriors.
Indeed, God is our co-pilot, and I'm afraid we aren't terribly anxious to switch seats.