NovocaineEssays, Featured, Part of the Solution, Social Justice — By Thomas Christianson on March 13, 2012 at 11:09 am
Imagine you have a serious toothache, and so you go to the dentist to get it fixed. The dentist takes x-rays, pokes around on your teeth and tells you that you have a deep cavity.
But instead of getting out his drills and the cement needed to perform a root canal, he just pulls out a syringe of novocaine and injects you. Then, he tells you that you’re free to go. When the pain returns, just come on back and he’ll give you another shot.
You wouldn’t accept that solution, would you? You’d want to deal with the pain by solving the condition that’s causing it. Just covering up the symptoms would be short sighted and foolish.
I wonder; is the church (especially in the west) functioning like Novocaine?
Just trying to numb people to the pain of this life as they wait for heaven?
This world may be bad and evil, but one day we’re all gonna be in a heaven and it’ll just be so happy. Now you go on home and come back next week so I can remind you about this again.
I see a problem with this scenario: God doesn’t want you to go to heaven. He wants you to bring heaven to where you’re at.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on the earth as it is in heaven.”
Jesus told us to pray that.
But we really seem to stink at it sometimes. It’s like we think that a church service is heaven on earth, so all we have to do is show up on Sunday and we’ve done our duty for God.
God isn’t interested in us doing our duty.
He isn’t some cosmic dictator who gets his identity from his people lining up into formation once a week to sing and shout about how great he is.
Maybe instead of trying to forget and ignore how bad this world is, we need to face it. Instead of escaping it, maybe we need to embrace it.
When the world is causing pain and distress in our lives, we don’t need a Novocaine shot of Jesus: When I die, hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away.
No! We must look beyond the symptoms, for the actual problems! Then we must work to correct those problems.
Abortion is terrible, so we tell ourselves that America will be judged for it and that those babies are in heaven. Maybe we even seek to change the laws to make it illegal.
But what are we doing about the people who are getting pregnant when they’re not ready? There’s a reason that’s happening. Instead of healthy relationships, they’re engaging in sex, most likely to fill a need or desire that isn’t being met elsewhere in a healthy manner.
Crime is rampant, so we trumpet justice and demand that harsh prison sentences be handed out to those who commit heinous crimes. But where were we when that person needed help and love? Before they ever got to the point where despair and perhaps drug abuse drove them to do things that horrify us? Back when they were seeking an identity, but couldn’t find one besides being a bully or a thief or a drunk? As soon as they show up on the radar of newspapers, then by God we’re ready to hang them.
The man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – he was heartbroken when a relationship ended and turned to drugs and alcohol which warped his mind. The shooter in Norway who believed that the logical extension of his political beliefs included the murder of 69 adults and children.
Do we shake our heads and long for a world where there will be no tears? Or do we start looking for ways to begin undoing the climate and situations that are causing these things?
Does anybody think that these shootings will be solved by politicians or law enforcement or legislation? We know that that natural inclination of this world is away from God, not towards him. It is up to us to put oars out into the water and with all our might row for the shores of God’s Kingdom. Jumping off the boat and swimming for the shores alone while leaving everyone else to drift off into oblivion is selfish and antithetical to the mission Jesus has given us.
At this point, most modern preachers of social responsibility would say that we must be strongly involved in politics to effect such changes – Donald Miller, Peter Rollins, etc.
I disagree. I don’t believe the church should be concerned with the administration of a nation. Let the government govern. The church exists upon a separate mandate.
If the homeless in our cities are the responsibility of the police to monitor and the government to feed and shelter, then perhaps it is the responsibility of the church to educate, to help them find and establish their identity, to give hope, to give opportunity to get on their own feet and then help others do the same.
But for God’s sake (literally), let’s stop just trying to ignore the things that hurt until we can make it to glory. Surgery is painful and takes time to recover from, but it’s far better than simply masking the problems.
The church should not resemble somebody who is popping pain pills for years because not only are they avoiding the issue, but they are now addicted to the comfort the pills give.
Let’s feel the hurt. Let’s weep for the pain that exists. And then lets start the difficult process of healing.
In addition to being a Youth Pastor at Christ’s Community Worship Center in Columbia, MD, Thomas Christianson is an Adjunct Professor at Stevenson University. He completed a Master’s Degree in Practical Theology at Regent University, and enjoys blogging at thomaschristianson.tumblr.com.