Over the weekend, CNN ran an article under the headline, “Who Will Lead Us?” In it, Stephen Collinson was bemoaning the current leadership vacuum in American life. He was essentially throwing his hands in the air and wondering out loud how we’re ever going to get out of the mess we’re in as a people. It’s a good question. And one that has few promising answers when you survey the landscape of political, cultural and moral leadership in modern America.
But if you bring the church into the conversation, you start to find hope. When you bring Jesus into the mix, everything becomes possible. Our country shouldn’t have to be looking around for hope. We should see it flowing out of every church and out of every Christian.
This is the church’s moment.
America needs the church far more than the church needs America.
Yes, I enjoy the freedoms of religious liberty. Yes, I like gathering with my church without any fear of arrest or persecution. But most of us can’t imagine the church without America and that’s just wrong. When you drop the church into the persecution of China, she thrives. When you drop the church into the hardships of Africa, she explodes. We don’t need to worry about the church – she’ll be just fine. In fact, not even the gates of hell will prevail over her. (Mt. 16:18)
The question is whether she’ll thrive and explode in this American moment.
I believe she can and I believe she will. The country is looking for hope – for people not afraid to talk about the deep wounds of racism, for people willing to confront the brokenness of humanity, for people who will point the way towards justice and peace, for people who have been deeply impacted by the message of grace.
The grace of Jesus will inspire people to do what no law can command. It’s in response to an infinitely rich God who became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9) that we start living generous lives. It’s in response to a God who died for us while we were enemies that we find the courage to love our own enemies. (Romans 5:8 and Mt. 5:44) It’s in response to the cross that we find the strength to fight for justice.
This isn’t a time for the church to be quiet. This is a time for us to hold out the hope of the gospel. The hope of a God who forgives all. The hope of a God who changes hearts. The hope of a God who will one day make all things new.
This boldness can’t just come from the pulpit. It must flow from our lives. We, like Paul, must not be ashamed of the gospel. Why? It’s the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). We must take up our calling to be ambassadors of Christ.(2 Cor. 5:20). Be salt and light to our world.(Mt. 5:13-16)
Don’t feel bad or embarrassed that you follow Jesus. Be thrilled that you know the One who is hope. Delight in the privilege of being His child. Be bold, be wise, be loving, be gentle.
Just don’t run from the world. Run to it with hope, grace and the name of Jesus.