I want to share a story that I have told a few times, but each time it was told, I left out a key part. Not because I was trying to hide anything, but because there were other points I was trying to make in the account at the time, and this particular part wasn’t important for the other points.
But I believe it is time for this part of the story to be told.
Because the lesson in it is incredibly powerful.
More than a decade ago, a friend and I believed that we should start an organization called Taking Back America. We believed that the very best thing for America was for Christians to mobilize politically and make a stronger, united effort to influence our governments, schools, and other institutions “for the cause of Christ.” We were very excited about this endeavor and were planning to have a huge kick-off event with some national political speakers who were Christians and some nationally recognized Christian musical acts.
With the planning underway and a few speakers already committed, I contacted a particular artist management company to line up a particular musician. I spoke to several different people at this company, telling them all about what we were doing and why we were doing it. I sent them our information and they told me that they would get back with me within a couple of weeks. But they never did.
Frustrated, since this was the last piece of the puzzle we needed to begin promoting the event, I called the agency back in order to find out what was taking so long. The lady with whom I had been speaking over the previous weeks finally passed the call over to the agency director.
The subsequent conversation left me completely frustrated and confused.
The director started by saying that he did not believe that the musician we were trying to book necessarily agreed with what we were doing or how we were doing it. Perplexed, I asked him to be more specific.
He said neither he nor the musician believed that it was a good thing for Christianity to advance politically, adding that they did not think America necessarily had to be “taken back for Christ” by the means we were suggesting.
I continued to press him because I could not understand what he was saying. It was not computing. It would not register. I could not imagine that there could be such a person who did not believe that Christians ought not take America back and “restore it to the Christian values and ideals that we once had.”
Even more frustrated, I asked him how, exactly, we ought to move forward as Christians in America if we do not do it politically. He told me something I will never forget. He said, “The Kingdom of God is not dependent upon any political or governmental institution to move forward.”
This leads me to the part of the story that I have never written about before but that I now believe is important to share. But before I tell you how he responded to me and what he said, let me simply say this: When a person or a group of people believe that they have special knowledge or information, or that they have superior insight into a subject or a particular view, or that they have experienced a moment of clarity or enlightenment, there is a temptation to look down on others who do not have this special knowledge, superior insight, or shared enlightenment.
What I was about to receive was the most despicable form of judgment and lack of grace I have ever experienced.
In response to my serious lack of understanding to his perspective and my continued questioning for clarity, he said, “People like you will never get it.”
While on one hand, that was the first time anyone who had a very different perspective of the way, life, and message of Jesus had confronted me on my limited perspective of how a Christian should think, act, and behave in our country. Even further, that was the first time anyone had ever mentioned the kingdom of God to me. It was the first time anyone had ever suggested that God could work and move in the world in ways that were different than anything I had ever known or expected.
And it certainly got my
But, on the other hand, I was angry. On that day, I would have socked that guy in the mouth if we had both been in the same state. Not only had he challenged my perspective that the United States ought to be a Christian nation and that it should be done politically, but he did it in a way that absolutely killed me on the inside.
I felt so small. So belittled. And so angry.
Even in my anger, I had to at least admit that my view may have been limited because I had never known or heard anything about the Kingdom of God. I had never heard that the Kingdom of God was a present reality in the lives of those who follow the sacrificial way of Christ.
I had never been confronted with Jesus and his upside-down kingdom message. And I certainly didn’t realize that day how this kingdom and Christ’s lordship in my life would change my allegiances, my values, and they way I live.
The guy on the other end of the line told me I would never get it.
Well, I did eventually get it. And it was with very little help from the man who wrote me off as a lost cause.
I know that I write a ton about the misgivings and misalignment of the church. I know at times it may feel like I am writing off the church and the beautiful people that make it up. But I write and share what I have discovered, not because I don’t think you will ever get it, but because I know that you can get it.
And I will never give up trying to help you find this beautiful treasure of the Kingdom of God.
Columbus’ Brandon Andress has been a church leader and teacher and is a regular contributor to outsidethewalls.wordpress.com. He can be reached at theunearthedproject.com.