“Influential Pastor Warns of Socialism, Departure from God.” So reads the headline of a video I recently viewed by a well known American preacher. With the greatest respect, I beg to differ. America faces the danger of Socialism precisely because the church has offered no alternative. Let’s own up to some responsibility here. It’s unfair to shove this mess off on unbelievers when we’re the ones who have failed so miserably at offering something better. Yes, I know. We preach heaven. And that’s a very good thing when the time comes. But we’re not there yet, and Jesus commissioned us to preach a message about the Kingdom of God, a message that touches every part of our metastasized nation.
Socialism has nothing to say about heaven, but much to say about life itself. It offers inferior and ultimately unworkable answers to the problems of poverty, greed, health care, unemployment, labor, equality, and a host of other societal ills. But the point is, it offers answers. While the liberal media, Marxist professors and postmodern intellectuals of America at least have a plan in mind, the church wrings its hands and waits anxiously for Jesus to return and rescue us from this grand mess we’ve made of things.
Our last presidential election turned on the promise of “Hope and Change”, a distinctly Christian idea that finds its roots in the Scriptures. Hope means we’re living in a story that has a good ending. It means we’re going somewhere; that “the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. ” (John 1:5) The kingdom means that we have a story, that we have answers for the problems that choke our nation because the King is all wise, and He reigns over a good, and beautiful and true kingdom. It’s time we recovered that message and repented of our escape-centered gospel.
On a personal note, I had a splendid time with the DTS students at Holmsted Manor, (England), last week and then traveled by air, rail, and bus to Sarajevo, stopping for a day to visit some dear friends in Switzerland. Bosnia is much as I left it, with many people still struggling to find hope and encouragement. I’m spending leisurely hours with friends, listening to their stories of both victory and failure. The relationships here are as rich and challenging as ever, and it feels like a grand gift to have this time to reconnect. Next week I’ll return to Lausanne to teach at the base there. Your prayers are always appreciated.