It’s Sunday morning and on the front page of the newspaper is my friend and SALLT graduate Chris Brewster, superintendent of a large Oklahoma City charter school. He’s talking about the “deeply broken” nature of the public school system. Somehow it launches a philosophical conversation with my wife Lori on the way to church about how we as Christians cannot simply be about “reclaiming” the city or state for Jesus (well, maybe it’s less conversation and more pontification). It cannot simply be about the way things “used to be” and how we want it all back. It’s got to be about redeeming, which is way more than reclamation. Redemption connotes newness, a breathing of life into dead or decaying bones. It’s the way things oughta be, not the way things were – even if they seemed good to some of us.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big supporter of groups defending religious liberty. That’s important whether you are Christian or Muslim. When those talking about “reclaiming” things are talking about winning back our religious freedom and opposing a government that is increasingly hostile to people of faith (most notably Christians it seems), I’m all about that. I’m on the team. Unfortunately, I think the rap we get as Christians is that the secular world perceives us as mainly angry middle-aged white folks that just want to preserve our comfortable little holy huddles. We want our separateness; we want our private, wholesome little world unsullied by the evils of this world. Unfortunately, we deserve much of that rap.
So on the drive to church I’m telling Lori that the point of SALLT is about injecting our Jesus DNA back into the culture and not about running from it. It’s not about simply establishing more separateness of Christian music and Christian education or “Christian” this or that. It’s about influencing a post Christian community with the love of Jesus Christ. It’s about permeating culture with something so profound and so good and so bright that though we may offend them with the pronouncement of our principles, they cannot resist what we bring to the banquet.
We as Christians are experiencing a severe and ongoing cultural collision today and the rapidity of our descent and even assimilation into this skeptical, post modern, secular society only points out in stark relief the hollowness of the current Christian narrative.
I go on to share with Lori that we must push the re-set button on our language. We need be able to engage a robust discourse that is principled yet loving. That language cannot be viewed as just a shrill chant about what we are against. Today’s even self-described “spiritual” citizen is profoundly turned off by our tired refrain of “We love the sinner but hate the sin”. This culture has no ear for that. I suspect it’s because we don’t have much of a reputation on the love part. If we are going to be writing checks of cultural criticism on our public account, we had better have a sufficient love balance to cover them.
New Heavens, New Earth
(written as a gift to SALLT)
Music and Lyrics by:
©2015 Kyle Dillingham, LLC