Understanding the Time(s)
One historian recently wrote that we, in the Churches of Christ, are "an argumentative bunch." That is an apt description of what has made us, as a people of God, tick. We have argued! We have argued with Baptists. We have fought the Methodists. And we have wrestled with the Catholics. We have argued with each other over virtually everything under the sun from versions, orphan homes, autonomy to Zionism.
There was a a time when arguing was, perhaps, not such a vile thing. Most of the folks looked like us, talked like us, and lived like us. They believed in God, Christ, the Bible, and basically had the same white, middle class, value system. In that kind of environment it was easy to focus on minor areas of disagreement, which typically had little (or no) impact on actual Christian living. It was only by focusing on these matters of minutiae that we were able to make ourselves "distinct." So we argued. And we became experts on the forensic platform.
But if September 11, 2001, has not done anything else it has done this: It has taught me that I need to understand the times! Just in case we have missed it by our arguing -- September 11 told us the world has radically changed. It has been changing all along . . . but we simply were unaware. Our eyes were wide shut!
Our world was wracked by massive social upheaval in the civil rights movement. It had witnessed numerous political assassinations. The powder keg of Vietnam left many in a moral daze. A president resigned . . . Yes our world was in deperate need of a Word from God and so we debated the Herald of Truth, fought the election of JFK, slandered King as a communist. We published tomes on the "Dangers of Modern Versions" and largely became irrelevant to the lives of people living now. We did not address the issues of living now.
But 9/11 has shown us we no longer have the luxury of arguing. We have not had that luxury for a long time. We as Christians must lay aside petty issues and focus on the real issues confronting this world in its absolute chaos.
Today in the United States there are more Muslims than members of the Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church combined. Today those around us are asking serious, and even frightening, questions that we must be prepared to answer. There are issues faced by teens today that most adults can not imagine. It is time for us to understand the times. It is time for us to reject the wiles of Satan who would distract us from being the real salt of the Earth. It is time I realize that most folks do not share a biblical value system. It is time I realize that the Baptists or Christian Church, despite our differences, in light of the horrible evil of 9/11, are hardly my enemy. The world left "Leave It to Beaver" in the 1950s, that world does not exist (if it ever did). It is time for us to enter the real world of the 21st century and do battle with the real Enemy.
Until we understand the times we will be ineffective in ministry to the world. September 11 was our wake-up call. Are we still sleeping? Do we have a word from God for today?