As most of us are aware, yesterday, at the prompting of a conservative politician, American Christians (and social conservatives) waited in line for hours to eat at Chick-Fil-A. It was supposed to be some sort of “buycott” to get back at the Mayors of Boston & Chicago and all of those darn liberals who “opposed the Christian values of Chick-Fil-A”.
We’ve all heard this rhetoric a thousand times by now. The left says “Chick-Fil-A is a hategroup” and the right says “they are trying to take away our religious liberty, THIS IS PERSECUTION!!!!!”.
So how did this happen? How did Christians in bulk allow themselves to get so engrossed into such a laughable, hateful, pathetic situation as this one? There have been plenty of good thoughts reprimanding the actions of the church, but little talk on why these actions actually happened. Below, I’ve offered five specific thoughts on why the church embarrassed herseld last Wednesday, and what possibly can be done to avoid another “Chick-Fil_A Day”.
The aggressive American bi-party political system mixed with the sensationalism of news media and the cultural polarization known as “the Culture Wars” have simply pulverized any type of dignified social dialogue in this country. Period. Like shooting bottle rockets a drought-stricken field, the culture was bound to catch fire some time. American Christians have too long be distracted by the right vs. left political games. With flashy rhetoric and some supposed religious liberty threatened, we reacted. This is the environment that we have been lured into. It is not an excuse, but simply a reality.
4. Misunderstanding of ‘Freedom’
Christian theology teaches that freedom is not given by man, but given by God himself. When the Bible talks about freedom, it never talks about political freedom or legislated “rights”. The Bible repeatedly talked about freedom as the liberation from sin and it’s punishment both in this life and in the life to come. 2 Cor 3:17 says “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”, now,written in the face of ubiquitous danger and persecution this takes on a very apolitical meaning. It means that true freedom is dependent on the intervention of God, not man. Christians were seeking freedom this Wednesday at Chick-Fil-A, but sadly they were looking somewhere that it cannot be found. Only in Christ is religious freedom found, not the Constitution (Romans 6:17-18). True Christian freedom, which is much too deep to fully unpack here, leads to humble service and a joyful contentment (Galatians 5:13), not vain anti-protests.
American Christians (including me, especially me) NEED comfort. And there exits a fear of losing the comforts that we belief are afforded to us, in this case American legislated liberty and Christian cultural dominance. It is like the child who refuses to try to learn to use the toilet because he is quite comfortable having his parents change his diaper. There seems to be a belief that if we can hold on to the comforts of life, we will be happy. We do not want to be challenged because, well, it is hard. This week we have seen how far Christians will go to preserve their perceived needs of comfort. The American church believed the lie that Constitution has the power to deliver true peace and true comfort, but only Christ is capable of that.
2. Lack of Global Vision
While somewhat tied to the point above, I think that there are some even deeper ecclesial issues plaguing the American Church today. While this subject in particular deserves much more time, thought and space it is still important to look at. Today, many in the Church in the United State “go to church”. Not understanding that 1.) The church is a body of believers who have been joined together by a mutual salvation and are part of the singular ‘Bride’ or ‘Body’ of Christ (Rev 19:7, Col 1:18, 1 Cor 10). Along with that, as a part of that Body, we have been commissioned to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:20) and forsake our worldly comfort, possession, status, reputation and rights (Mark 13:9-13) for the glory of the God that we serve as Christian believers. With this comes a view of the church as the main means of spreading the love, mercy and grace of Jesus. Paul used Church planting as his vehicle of kingdom expansion. Yet most see the church as a spiritual organization that must gain influence politically, socially and hell, even militarily sometimes. This led to a backlash against the non-Christian culture’s push for the legalization of gay marriage. Christians (I believe especially when it became a ‘front page issue’ earlier this year with the dealings in North Carolina) have been quite focused on this issue lately, as have non-Christians. All leading to a quite unredeemed cultural skirmish were bridges are burned between the church and the gay community, and the church simply is not acting like who the bible says she is.
1. A Gospel Issue
It all truly comes down to where Christians are finding their salvation and what their functional god commands of them. When we believe that Jesus has truly secured salvation for us, we are free to joyfully obey his commands by the power of the Holy Spirit. These commands not simply being “have a good family, support the right things, live a good and moral live, vote republican”. But an internal and external transformation into Christlikeness, characterized in Galatians 6 as looking like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,[&] self-control” (v.22-23). This comes from knowing that standing with God is 100% secured regardless of behavior. It is the backbone of Christian freedom, that Christ has taken on our burden of sin completely in exchange for his perfect righteousness. When we don’t believe this we live something that kind of resembles the Christian life but is not. When we are not secure in Christ, we are always looking for salvation (this is called ‘idolatry’). Some Christians commit idolatry with the god of politics, comfort, culture or security. Naturally, with these lackluster saviors comes opposition and these gods enlist their followers to fight for them to ensure their victory. Both non-Christians and Christian engaged in this in the Chick-Fil-A wars. One side looking for ‘personal acceptance’ and the other ‘religious freedom’, two pretty abysmal gods (although very good things themselves). But the gospel says that these two things are found not in chicken sandwich restaurants, but in Jesus himself!
So as we all try to make sense of what the heck has happened in the last two weeks concerning this tasty, albeit controversial restaurant and we consider the failures of the Christians let us not set for Christians a trap of condemnation, guilt and shame. Instead, let’s encourage each other to trust more fully in the Gospel of Jesus, something that will be much more attractive and authentic than chicken sandwich boycotts.