“Stand beside, or step aside for the frontline.”
Now that’s the sort of talk I love to hear. Of course it doesn’t make as much sense without the context of the song it’s yanked out of. Here, let me give you the first verse so you can get a feel for the song…
It’s not like I’m walking alone into
the valley of the shadow of death
Stand beside one another, ‘cause it ain’t over yet
I’d be willing to bet that if we don’t back down
You and I will be the ones that are
holding the Crown in the end
When it’s over, we can say, “Well done”
But not yet, ‘cause it’s only begun
So, pick up, and follow me, we’re the only ones
To fight this thing, until we’ve won
We drive on and don’t look back
It doesn’t mean we can’t learn from our past
All the things that we mighta done wrong
We could’ve been doing this all along
And then of course it goes into the chorus, the last line of which is quoted above. The song is titled “Frontline” (obvious, no?), and it’s by the band Pillar. I must admit, I like the song. I’d definitely recommend it as a download for the digital music player of your choice. A warning is in order, however: it’s pretty rockin’ stuff. If you can’t stomach that genre of music so well, at least look the rest of the lyrics up for me, kay? I think that you’ll come to like the song too.
Actually, it’s encouraging to me. If you look out over this younger Christian generation, that sort of “let’s get this fight rolling again” mentality is rather widespread. You can see it in the music we listen too: the above Pillar song is one of a plethora of popular Christian songs I could point out. You can see it in what we do: the number of young people going out of various sorts of missions endeavors seems to increase exponentially every year. You can see it in what we say: I’ve been (figuratively speaking) hammering this message into the skulls of my not-so-similarly-minded peers in just about everything I’ve written since I started writing. And I’m not alone, not by a long shot.
It’s refreshing, seeing that many of this generation want to rid the Church of the apathy that has smothered it for about two generations now here in America. Yeah, I’m sure some of you would take issue with me on that statement, and if I was being technical, I’d take issue with me too. Obviously, if the church had been completely apathetic, there wouldn’t even be a younger generation. BUT, I think that anyone looking at the events towards the beginning of the last century would, if they were honesty, say that that generation bought into the lie that the Church should keep to itself, and leave the running of society to the government. To a large degree, the church surrendered many of its responsibilities to the government. Yes, the Depression was a hard time, but it should have been the Church rallying to help people make it through, not the government. That’s just one example, but in many arenas the Church gave its own ground to Uncle Sam, public education (Uncle Sam’s inbred and retarded child), and non-profit organizations. The Church unfortunately acquiesced when they said it needed to stay in the arena of “spiritual matters” behind its closed doors on Sunday, and leave reality to those properly equipped to handle it.
So now, two generations later, society’s a mess and the Church still struggles and to ground itself in the reality of people’s lives. And yet we wonder why Sunday morning Christians are still such a problem. The apathetic Sunday morning system the Church let itself get compartmentalized into generations ago is obviously and inevitably going to breed an apathetic Sunday morning Christian, that whole “reap what you sow” thing. So yes, it’s immensely encouraging to see that this generation knows things have to change and wants to either prevail or go down fighting.
But now I have to sigh again.
I hate to say it, but unfortunately many of this generation, many of my generation, are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The Church has become obsolete, they say, so let’s just chuck it. Essentially, that’s really what this whole new “Emergent Church” thing is about, tossing anything that even half-way looks like it was related the Church as it has been. This new book that’s been causing waves, The Shack, it runs along the same lines. I haven’t read it yet (although I intend to), but I’ve read several reviews and an interview with the author in World Magazine. To a certain (and admitted) extent, the book is about removing the organized Church from Christianity. As if that were actually possible.
I can identify with them to a huge degree; I’ve given the Church plenty of tongue lashings myself. I can understand the frustration. We’re hyped, we’re pumped, we want to fight something, to get to that frontline and give the enemy our best shot. The apathy plaguing Church absolutely disgusts us, and of course the gut reaction is to run. Much of the generation is flying out the Church doors, weapons in hand and battle-cry in lungs as they charge off, looking for that frontline. You have to admire their guts and die-hard spirit, it’s inspiring really. They’ve just missed one, small thing. The frontline is just under their noses, it always has been. It’s not in the trenches “out there” somewhere...
It’s in the pews.
Does the Church have problems? Oh yeah, you’d better believe it. Have we made some pretty killer mistakes? Heck yes. But if the Church was perfect, it wouldn’t really be the Church then would it? Christianity and the Church are inseparable. The Church is where the battle is and always has been. It’s where the frontline fight really is, bet your life on it.
One must admit, there is a certain logic to the “chuck the Church” perspective. The Church has been a Lone Ranger convention for a long time, a place where the individuals come together 4 (at best) out of 168 hours a week to discuss how doing their own thing the other 164 hours is going. Well the convention isn’t going well, so what does one do? Break up the convention of course; Lone Rangers don’t need one anyway. Quite logical, it does in its own way make sense.
The only problem is this: there were never supposed to be Lone Rangers. It’s the Rangers that need breaking up, not the convention. The Church is supposed to be a living breathing body, a family of people living life together day by day. The battle lies in making that happen. But, you say, the Church is supposed to reach out and change society; that’s where the battle should be. Wrong: the Church is supposed to overflow into and possess society. The idea that the Church is over here and it needs to reach society over there is only part of the compartmentalization that caused this problem in the first place.
The real fight is breaking the Church out of its compartmentalized mindset that crippled it in our society two generations ago. That’s the true frontline for you, and it ain’t your momma’s frontline either. This one’s going to be a doozey: entrenched habits die hard, very hard. It’s going to take a defibrillator the size of Texas to reawaken this sleeping giant we call the Church, call it The Great Awakening Round 2. But that’s the fight I’m headed for. So like Pillar said…
“Stand beside [me], or step aside for the frontline.”