For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
A Broken Culture
I don’t have to tell you about the ridiculous state of brokenness in our public discourse. The divide between worldviews in our culture grows deeper by the day. The rules of engagement are changing faster than any of us can fully absorb. So are the weapons. Each “side”, in its obsession with destroying the “other side”, gets more and more creative with its narrative. And, to the extent there are any institutions with any integrity left, both sides have gone after them mercilessly in order to coop them for their own political purposes.
The culture wars tainted social media and completely coopted mainstream media. Similarly, well-intentioned non-profit organizations have been turned. Alas, even the church has been twisted, reshaped and weaponized for the battle. The great divide took an untold number of otherwise profound, complicated social problems and sucked them into the fray, reducing them to trite, idealogical soundbites. This pretty much guarantees no real solutions will be forthcoming. That is because problem-solving is no longer the goal. Winning is the goal. No matter the cost.
The Weapons of this War
In this culture of outrage, all problem-solving begins with an underlying assumption that one “side” must win and one must lose. There are no options outside this false duality. That is the war we are fighting. Those are the rules of engagement. The weapons are false narratives, confirmation bias, identity politics, and fear mongering. These are the weapons of our culture war.
Oh, there are many nuances of each of these weapons. There are so many ways to create false narratives. Confirmation bias has been around a long time, but now we are learning to use it to destroy our opponents. Identity politics helped underprivileged classes at one time, but we now use them to create even deeper divides.
The Church Must be Different
I am here to say that the church has no business using these weapons, and these weapons have no place in the church. And the reason is simple: next to the power of the gospel, these weapons are silly and shallow.
In my mediation practice, I have seen the difference between secular mediation and faith-based mediation. It is stark. And it should be. Secular negotiation techniques and posturing and shady narratives simply have no place in any process aimed at discerning the will of God. And isn’t that the point of faith-based mediation? We seek to see each other the way God sees us. We want to see the issues the way God sees the issues and solve them the way God leads us to solve them.
The Gospel has its Own Power
Paul’s words to the church in Corinth say as much. The wielding of power and the manipulations of power-brokers simply have no place in the church’s process for dealing with conflict. This is because the gospel comes with its own power. God’s Word comes with its own power. It doesn’t need anything we have to offer it. The gospel message requires only that we step aside and allow it to heal, to correct, and to convict. It doesn’t present counter-arguments to my argument and it doesn’t require a narrative to help sell its message. God’s Word sees right through all my arguments and it changes me. It doesn’t touch anything or anyone without producing profound change.
So, maybe, rather than jumping into the culture wars on the world’s terms, we (the church) should be trusting more in the power of the gospel than in the power of politics. And maybe we should leave the weapons of the world outside the church and rely more on the divine power to destroy strongholds. Let’s show a watching world where our hope is.