It is popular in some circles today to talk about the terrorist threat from Muslim extremists. While a Muslim threat may exist, I am more concerned about the Christian threat.
No, I don’t think that Christians are likely to become terrorists. There are a few crazy Christians out there who behave in such a manner, but they are roundly condemned by all Christians as not accurately reflecting Christian values or the teachings of Jesus. So I am not that concerned about the threat from Christian extremists.
What really concerns me is the threat from Christian moderates.
This might surprise you a bit, because maybe you consider yourself to be a Christian moderate. You are not one of those fire-breathing, wild-eyed zealots shouting into a bull-horn on the street corner, nor are you one of those dreadlock-growing, communal-living, vegetarian pacifists. You faithfully attend church every Sunday, you go to a small group on Wednesday, you tithe 10% to your church, you volunteer every year for VBS, and you don’t try to cram Jesus down everyone’s throat at work. This is a general description of a Christian moderate.
Yes, and this sort of Christians is exactly what I am afraid of.
Christian moderates are one of the biggest threats to the world today.
And in case you feel judged, I am condemning myself here, because I am a Christian moderate as well…
So let me approach this from another angle.
Have you ever threatened the life of another human being? Probably not.
But I believe that many of us Christians needlessly endanger the lives of other people simply by the way we live.
Look at Jonah as an example. Jonah knew that God was out to discipline him, and by going down into the boat headed for Tarshish and falling asleep, he needlessly endangered the lives of the sailors on board and almost took all of them down with him.
Christians can do this in a variety of ways today. The most blatant of all is simply not caring for the well-being of our neighbors and co-workers, or the future of our country.
There are many Christians who go through life caring only about attending the next Bible study, going to the next church service, and reading the next Christian best seller. They have no clue that their neighbor just lost his job, that their coworker just got diagnosed with cancer, or that the decisions their local and national leaders are making will ravage future generations. Instead, they have gone down into their local church, down into the books and Bible studies, and have fallen asleep. They don’t care that people all around are crying out to their false gods, are throwing cargo overboard, and hoping against hope that they will live to see another day.
Instead, all they know is that they will go to heaven when they die, and that is enough for them.
Just like God told Jonah to get up and go to Nineveh, but Jonah went the opposite direction, Jesus says to us, “Go into all the world and make disciples!” so we get up and go to church. We go down into the pews and pay the fare for the big, expensive building that is headed in the wrong direction. The people God wants us to go to never show up at church, and the church never goes to them. But we sit idly by, sleeping away our lives in the apathy of prayer meetings and Bible studies, while “crying people all around us perish on the sea of life” (John Hannah, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Jonah, 1466).
This is what I mean when I talk about the threat of Christian moderates.
We are content to practice our religion in peace and quiet.
We don’t want anyone to rock the boat, and we ignore the fact that the boat is sinking.
We just want to be safe and serene, not bothered by what bothers the world, or concerned with what concerns them.
This is what makes us so threatening.
The threat is not from those who see what is wrong with the world and try to do something about it (even if they are terribly wrong in their approach). The threat is from those who do not care to know what is going on the world. It is apathy, not activism, which threatens nations and destroys lives, because when we haven’t a care in the world we tend not to care for those in the world either.
The world is going through numerous storms all the time, whether they be physical storms like hurricanes and floods, or others types of storms such as financial, spiritual, and emotional storms. And if the church simply ignores these storms, we are acting just like Jonah when he went down into the hull of the ship and fell asleep while the storm from God threatened the lives of all on board.