At some point in history, someone (or someones) determined that they needed to find a better way to be able to see farther and with more clarity than what was physically possible with the naked human eye. It is still a mystery to this day as to exactly who invented it, but the first patent for a telescope was filed by Dutch eyeglass maker, Hans Lippershey in 1608. In 1609 Galileo heard about this device and crafted his own, and actually made some improvements to the design. Galileo was the first to turn the telescope toward the heavens. This device also helped Galileo determine that the earth was not the center of the galaxy, but that the sun was.
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter who invented it. It happened…and because of the invention of the telescope we have been able to not only see the stars and the moon with more clarity but also galaxies several light years away and make other amazing discoveries in the heavens overhead that would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed.
And the rest, as they say, is history!
Interestingly, in the early days of science, science was heavily driven by people who were Christians. Galileo himself was a believer (although he suffered some persecution from the Catholic church for his discoveries regarding the sun). Isaac Newton, a believer. Pascal, a believer. And the list could go on.
At some point, however, Christians were either edged out by atheist scientists who didn’t appreciate their linking science and faith, or they edged themselves out by convincing themselves that science and faith resided in separate spheres.
I say all of this to simply put out there that the Church has become nearsighted.
The evidence is quite plentiful and demonstrates just how nearsighted we have become. But to make it easily digestible, it can probably be summed up this way; if it’s not something we do within the four walls of our church building or if it doesn’t impact my local congregation, then an unfortunate amount of American Christians will argue that the church has no need to be involved in those matters. You will hear this argument especially with regards to social justice, public education, politics, science, and other areas.
This is sad because we have been called to be more than message bearers.
In fact, we have been called to be influencers.
We have been called to be world shakers.
We have been called to be inventors.
We have been called to be the voice of truth to wayward generations.
We have been called to be lights to a dark world.
We have been called to be salt to a tasteless and truthless world.
And we have shirked off ALL of these things and focused on one small aspect of what it means to be a Christian (usually based on our denomination) and have convinced ourselves that we are doing everything we have been called to do.
Not only have we become nearsighted as far as understanding the role of the Christian in this world, but we have become nearsighted in our approach to cultural engagement and other spheres of life.
Something we can learn from liberals (and even from Muslims) is their long-range game plan. They don’t fight for their ideologies with only today in mind. They have a long-range game plan in place to strategically move the ball down the field in their favor. This is why they have been so successful at changing our culture (public education, social sphere, politics, etc.).
Christians, tend to only think about today…and what this often results in is a constant defense posture. Even when the ball is in our court we spend more time defending than we do moving toward the goal.
For example, consider this past election – most evangelical friends of mine were comfortable supporting a good candidate in the primaries, but once Trump was selected as the GOP nominee their mindset suddenly switched to “defend Trump at all costs so we don’t lose to Clinton”.
Don’t get me wrong, it apparently worked. Trump is the president (so weird to say that).
But it was a strategy driven primarily by fear with only a short game impact.
Conversely, I (and others) chose to hold the line and vote in line with biblical precepts (Exodus 18:21) with a long range game plan in mind (keep our integrity and our ability to speak into the culture, while examining a strategy to turn the bus around…not just avoid or smooth out the next sharp curve).
I voted third party.
I was repeatedly told that now was not the time to do have a long range game plan because we would lose the presidency, and this may be our last chance (interestingly, this has been said in like every election since I can remember). When they were asked, “When is the right time?” the response was usually “Just not now.”
We couldn’t see past November 8, 2016.
Are you tired of living election to election?
Are you tired of every election being driven by fear rather than by a biblical strategy?
Are you tired of being constantly on the defense?
Are you tired of being the underdog?
Do you want to get your telescope back?
Do you feel God drawing you into a deeper level of cultural engagement with a huge impact on the future state of our nation?
Then now is the time to refocus. Now is the time to recapture a long-range game plan for our culture and for our church. Now is the time to experience a radical change to our long-term perspective and get a handle on some things to have a greater impact on the future.
Fortunately, for you and I, there are some opportunities coming down the road to begin helping believers, Christian leaders, pastors, etc. to get their footing on what it’s going to take.
In fact, there is an opportunity coming up on Saturday, February 18th in Columbia SC called “The Bonhoeffer Institute” where Dr. Kevin Baird will be presenting a new strategy of engagement for the church. This is just one step of many that need to be taken, but I would highly encourage you to connect with this event and others that may be coming to your area and begin to get equipped for the future.
For more information, check out The Bonhoeffer Insitute’s website.