Christian passivity: turning peaceful to panicked
A level-headed friend from college recently texted me in fear for our nation. I asked her to share what event or events are pushing her into a panic. Within a minute—a single minute—she shared a short yet significant list of what truly frightens her about the state of the United States these days.
She isn’t alone. While I didn’t do an extensive, qualitative poll, I did wonder who else holds concerns that have escalated to the point of unhealthy signs of stress and fear. I found plenty.
The temperature and polarity here in America has certainly been affected by social media, one could argue. I agree. However, social media and slanted (or even scandalous-based) news agencies aside, many, if not all of us, have seen what I will call a progressive undermining of the values, morals, and ideals in this nation that did not exist to this extent a decade ago. We can all play into revisionist history by wearing rose-colored glasses beyond this past decade, but here’s the skinny: it’s tough out there now.
We have had shock wave traumas, those instances in our history where a national tragedy sends so many into an emotional tailspin. This is different. This is bigger, deeper, and uglier. Too many in our nation are too angry, divisive, unkind, or at times blatantly rude.
In response, I am reminded of the last sermon I gave before my October vacation. I spoke on Esther. Specifically, I framed a significant piece of that message on what Mordecai shares to his cousin, the Queen. During her down on the ground time of trial and emotional trauma, he asks, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this (4:14b)?”
If we are going to both celebrate and rest in the fact that God is in fact God and controls everything, then it’s a logical extension of this theological premise to assert that God being God has put you on this planet in this nation at this time. It is unquestionable that Esther had a purpose in a specific time. It’s equally unquestionable that Esther was also under great stress and strain during what would be the successful plan to spare not only her life but the lives of her people. Easy for Esther? Ha. Not at all. Easy for us?
Should it be?
I get that you want Easy Street. I do, too. I want a course of action before me that, on a bad day, may be mildly challenging. I certainly don’t want to experience ongoing, adverse conditions such as a nation that is becoming more and more unchristian.
This returns to the premise I mentioned that Sunday. There is an unspoken notion in our faith in Christ that because of Him, or, more to the point, because of our following of Him, our lives should be easier. There shouldn’t be hard stuff! We got Jesus!
But there are hard things, and, just like Esther, I believe God has called us, specifically us, to this day and age. Think of the retired grandparent who wants the Soft Life only to experience the Golden Years are not gold at all. Turbulence? Mayhem? Anxiety? Who needs this?
We may not need or want this, but consider the Apostle Paul who never had it easy. His walk with His Jesus didn’t bring resort-like living; Paul truly had difficult seasons as a senior Christian. We cannot expect less. What we can expect, however, is what Paul experienced, which was peace within panic-stricken moments. The world vehemently rejected the message of Christ then as the world adamantly rejects the message of Christ now. Through this, Paul preached and wrote not from a place of gentle comfort and posh, problem-free communities; he wrote to pressed and stressed Christians then and today who daily face a smorgasbord of gut-turning headlines.
You ARE born for a time and place such as this. Esther didn’t welcome her angst. You shouldn’t, either. Like her, you shouldn’t be passive during problematic times. The statement, “Well, God’s got this,” is indeed true. God does have this. But Esther didn’t sit back and give it all to God to let God sort her hot mess out. She acted. We must, too.
While I do not remember the details now, I recall the grief-burning mother who had just lost her teenage son to a mass shooting at his high school. She said, “I don’t want your prayers.” She meant that. Specifically, she meant she did not want passivity. Prayers are not passive, yet when we Christians are passive, when we sit back and refuse to be present to a still-speaking, never finished, always protective God, then panic is far more common than peace.
Go ahead and pray, or continue to pray. But pray God uses you for times such as these not with your eyes closed and your hands folded, but in action on the frontline, which is now in your backyard.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on October 21, 2020.