Uganda Journal Entry #5
Last leg of the journey home. Waiting at the gate here in DC to fly into Charlotte. I don’t know how it will be for me coming back to life in America–particularly the church in America. It’s frustrating to see the lukewarmness of the American church, and the increasing pressure and stifling of conservative values by the left. But it’s so much more than politics. It’s a heart issue. It’s a spiritual problem–just like Uganda has corruption running through every level of government, America is no better. Because it’s a spiritual battle. We need revival.
I agree with much of what Shane Claiborne argues for, but I think he’s slightly off-focus. (In Irresistible Revolution Claiborne recounts some of his stories of reaching the homeless and hurting of Philadelphia, Calcutta and Baghdad. I poured over it during my time in Uganda and gleaned much from it, especially his concern for and practical ministry to the poor, which was perfect for my context in Uganda. However, much of his focus leans toward social-Gospel and social justice with a frustrating absence of the proclaimed, spoken Word of the Gospel. In other words, if we meet physical needs but give the person no hope of eternity with Christ, we’ve done a disservice–the United Way can do that. But ministers of the Gospel must do more than meet only physical needs. Not that Claiborne is only meeting physical needs, I just think he leans that direction more. The pendulum should be kept in the middle.) The Gospel must always be the main thing. When the Gospel is kept the center and proclaimed with boldness, the rest takes care of itself, I believe. The socio-political realm of regeneration with take place, but not until we deal with sin. Not until we preach the Gospel of repentance. This is the hope of every nation. Not United Way programs. Not anti-war protests. Not even abortion protests. Because when the Gospel truly takes effect, these things follow.
In the First Great Awakening, Edwards, Whitefield and others did not roll up into a town and shut down the bars and pubs. No, they preached the Gospel, the bar owners and patrons gave their lives to Christ, and the bars shut down on their own. This is the power of the Gospel in a society. The human heart is always the first and primary target.
God, help me to always keep that perspective and not get side-tracked. Help me to see that a society is made up of people, of individuals, faces, people with families, with hopes and dreams. People for whom You gave Your life and whom You know intimately. Every hair on their head You count. Every tear from their eyes You collect in Your bottle.