Saturday, April 13
5:18 PM This afternoon I’ve been watching YouTubes of Malcolm Muggeridge, and one of them merits at least a very brief comment. In it, Muggeridge opines:
To identify Christian hopes with an earthly cause, however ostensibly noble, is disastrous, because all earthly causes end in total disappointment.
It was my reading of Muggeridge (as well as Jacque Ellul) that launched a path that ended up in my book Christian Archy.
Muggeridge (and Ellul) taught me a powerful lesson about God’s work in the world. Participating in political causes as Christians inevitably requires acceptable compromise. That’s not to say that Christians shouldn’t be involved in government or politics. But it’s most certainly not their duty to do so. The most important part of Christian initiation is the new birth, for without the new life that comes to us through conversion, we simply have not begun living out the kingdom of God. Being a Republican or a Democrat has nothing to do with it. What would happen if the church took the words of Muggeridge to heart? What if Christians did what Jesus called them and empowered them to do? I submit we would do more than the combined efforts of all the world’s governments and political parties put together. Sadly, a secular world looks at the church and concludes that the only kind of power most Christians think makes an actual difference is political power. But our job is to manifest God’s scandalous love by using our time, talents, and resources to serve the world.
The one thing I like most about Muggeridge is his call to regeneration. There must always be a surrender to the claims of Jesus. And consequently, there must always be a lifestyle change. Without the new birth, we have good reason to doubt that Christian discipleship has begun. The older I get, the surer I am that this message of Muggeridge’s — this message of the New Testament — needs to be at the very center of our proclamation as followers of Jesus Christ. The new birth is crucial, but it is often muted or absent in churches that are into the maintenance of the chairs on the Titanic. Christianity begins with conversion, a personal encounter with the risen Christ. I thank God that I heard this call to conversion when I was 8 years old. I am well aware that not all are so fortunate.
Watch for yourself: