Opinion

Why we are best as a minority

Tim Costello on revolution without bombs or laws

There are some in this nation who despair that Christianity has lost its ability to dominate or define the political and social landscape.

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Increasingly loud voices from the Christian barricades are insisting that we must adopt the militant tactics of successful non-Christian lobby groups to fight an “erosion” of Christian values and gain more legislative and political power.

The kingdom of God cannot be voted in or legalised into existence.

It is a philosophy that I believe is self-defeating.

There are those, from the Emperor Constantine on, who have celebrated religious faith as a legislative and social norm.

Yet, we know that the kingdom of God cannot be voted in or legalised into existence.

There are those – and I count myself among them – who believe we Christians are always at our best when we are in the minority. When we are not fighting for dominance with the law and the power of the state.

Christianity’s explosive early growth occurred at its greatest period of vulnerability and political weakness. This minority group attracted followers because it was compassionately responding to basic, deeply felt human needs.

Christians have an off-kilter view of the world – love your enemies, turn the other cheek, live without anger or lust, be strong in the broken places.

Jesus’ revolution was marked by service to others, not with bombs, politics or legislation.

We can actually celebrate being a faithful and discerning minority, not beholden to culture, legislators or power brokers. As historian Arnold Toynbee said, the fate of a society always depends on its creative minorities. Of course, we never celebrate the loss of religious freedom, but the face of Christianity should not be the face of fear and militant resistance. If Christians are known primarily for defending their institutions or morality, we will become just another aggrieved minority.

Jesus’ revolution was marked by service to others, not with bombs, politics or legislation. He proved that social change could only occur when hearts were changed.

The integrity of the church is jeopardised when it bends to the will of the state or culture. We have created a workable system where church and state are separated to protect them from one another, not to diminish the role of either.

The church should not be neutral when it comes to social change. We should sting the national conscience, speak truth to power and be a prophetic witness for biblical values and obedience to Christ.

But, as “resident aliens,” we should focus on developing Christian life and community rather than attempting to win the culture wars. Our quest is to live lives that model the love of Christ.

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