Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Benedict and Daniel

These new pictures of Bruce Jenner make me sad. The effusive praise coming from his supporters makes me sad. The hateful spite coming from his detractors makes me sad. The whole flippin' situation . . . sad, sad, sad. I grieve over what is happening in our country.

I posted an article on FB yesterday about a movement that's apparently been around but I'd never heard of: the Benedict Option. Here's the gist of it. America is going the way of ancient Rome, morally imploding. For the past few decades, religious social conservatives have believed themselves to be the majority and tried to get everyone to band together and vote the right way to protect and maintain their beliefs. It is becoming increasingly clear that they are no longer the majority (if they ever were) and that they are, in fact, becoming social pariahs. The Moral Majority approach will no longer work. We need instead to follow the example of St. Benedict who, when Rome was falling, created small communities where truth was taught and maintained. We need to "cultivate and preserve a robustly Christian subculture within an increasingly hostile common culture."

Interesting, because I've kind of been thinking along those lines for quite a while now.

Benedict created monasteries -- and that kind of cocooning is not what is needed now, I don't think. (Not sure it's even feasible in this day and age.) But I've thought for a long time (and have written about it here) that the Church in America is going to soon have to start taking a Daniel approach to ministry.

Daniel was one of the Hebrews carried away to Babylon during the Jewish exile. Because he was upper class and well-educated, he was brought to the court, probably with the hopes that they could re-educate him to their beliefs and he would be an asset to their side. Instead, he stood firm on his own beliefs (recall the lion's den story) and ended up influencing the king himself. Others in exile were like him, and they preserved the Hebrew faith until they were allowed to go home.

I heard a speaker once talking about starting a church in Salt Lake City with a Daniel approach, as opposed to a David and Goliath approach. Rather than storming the place to conquer the enemy (which seems to have been the way of the American Church lately), he entered as a guest in a foreign land, living out truth quietly and peacefully (whatever the consequences), praying for an invitation to give a reason for his belief.

This is the future of believers in America, I think. My principal spoke once of the fact that we are called to raise a Daniel generation. Amen.

No coming after the giants with rage and defiance. No hiding away in monasteries. Live quietly and peacefully within the hostile land. Live out the truth, whatever the consequences, and pray that others look at your life and want to have what you have. Quietly, peacefully, and lovingly.

Because Christ said his disciples would be known by their love. Not our politics . . . not our morals . . . not our rhetoric . . . by our love.  And Lord knows, that is NOT what the American Church is known for these days.

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