As a little boy I still remember hearing the story of “Chicken Little”, who scampered far and wide like a “fowl” version of Paul Revere warning his friends and neighbors shouting “the sky is falling—the sky is falling.” You see, the poor chicken had a chance encounter with an acorn that fell from a tree and hit him directly on his feathery head. Upon impact, “Chicken Little” knew the world as he knew it was coming to an end and it became his mission to get the word out to one and all.
Among Evangelical Protestant Christians, one often gets the impression that “Chick Little” has been promoted to the press secretary of the Religion Right. This week as the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to eliminate any discrimination against legally married same-sex couples, and its refusal to address the Proposition 8 ruling in California that will overturn the will of the people concerning legality of same-sex marriage in the largest state in the union, many believe our nation has placed its second foot on the slippery slope to destruction and ruin.
These decisions come on the heels of the controversial compromise of the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) which decided to change its historic stance on homosexuality and to invite homosexual boys to freely join their ranks while excluding homosexual men from holding any position of leadership among the boys. This compromise for many represents a slow but sure move by BSA toward a full embracing of homosexual behavior as normative and natural.
So what is happening all around us? Is the sky falling? Have traditional Christian values gone out of style like the bell bottom jeans of my teenage years?
Yes, the world around us is changing, but I don’t believe the sky is falling. Here’s why? Concerning our nation’s views of same-sex marriage and homosexuality, we now live in a “post-Christian” society. The Biblical world view that is still hanging on in much of the Deep South and the Bible-belt no longer holds sway in the rest of our nation. In addition there is a huge generation gap in morality taking place all around us. As the “Builder Generation” of WWII enter the “valley of the shadow of death” a younger generation of “Millennials” who received their moral training in front of a flat-screen upon which homosexual behavior and friends were normative are taking their place. It is not so much that the citizens of our nation are changing what they believe—it is that it is a new generation making the decisions.
So how do we respond to these seismic changes that are shaking the ground beneath our feet? I would suggest we do what Jesus did. Don’t panic—don’t run around screaming the “sky is falling” nor hide in “stained-glass windowed bunker with a year’s worth of canned goods all around us.” No, I believe we need to be proactive and positive in our approach.
In the first chapter of Mark, the reader receives very troubling news—Herod the wicked king arrests John the Baptist, the herald of a new day—the most popular preacher of his time. Meanwhile Jesus is just launching his ministry, so what does He do?
Does Jesus run for the hills to play it safe until it would be safe to preach his message? Does He seek to form some kind of a Galilean version of the “Moral Majority” to oust the king and to institute morality from the capitol to the living room? No, He instinctively knew that religious legalism was part of the problem and certainly not the answer. The Pharisees held the corner market on legalism. In fact, they had darkened people’s views of God to the point that few people recognized the Son of God when He walked into their neighborhood.
Do you remember what He did? Listen closely to Mark’s description:
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV)
Simply put Jesus preached “good news” in a bad news world. He pointed to the sky not in a panic about the end of the world, but rather calling people’s attention to the “coming of the Kingdom of God—the rule and reign of God among His subjects.” But don’t miss the key action points—“repent and believe the good news.” Yes, Jesus’ response to moral decay revolved around “repenting and believing”—simple responses with the power to change the human heart. This is not a day for panicking but a day for preaching good news. Jesus is the answer for the world today—share it!