I don’t know where we are in the American story. The American story is perhaps only one chapter, maybe even only one long paragraph in the epic Russian novel the Triune God is singing. I think it’s a pretty swell part of the story to be in, what with all the gifts we’ve been given by Jesus: abundant food, good work, relative freedom, peaceful neighborhoods, and of course iPhones.
But as the days go by, I hear the barbarians at our gates. And at this particular moment in the story, they seem to be getting louder. Maybe they’ll move on and find another nation to sack. But somehow I doubt it. We are a natural target because of the gifts we’ve been given. We have been blessed by God with prosperity and goodness. Despite the horrors and atrocities that have and do occur by our hands both in our own land and on foreign soil, I love the industry, creativity, ingenuity, hospitality, and good nature of my people, my neighbors, my nation.
And yet I hear the barbarian hoards. I hear the hoarse cries, the harsh laughter, the gnashing of teeth. It’s a particularly virulent strain of barbarism, subtle and deceptive because it masquerades as sensibility, compassion, and dignity. But barbarism is a culture of death, grasping, violence, oppression, and we have men and women in suits and ties with letters after their names announcing matter-of-factly their support of round squares, rivers that run up hill, boys that are girls, and the number seven that is also simultaneously the number five except on Tuesdays when it is also a Zebra wearing hot pink lipstick and the wombat shuffles balooka blam doodle doodle ding dong zip bgg wooooo ssss $$$ T(SS bbbbb…. And people actually get jobs, tenure, and elected to office on these platforms. This is the inchoate blathering of bona fide blotto, but we should not miss that it is also simultaneously a spitting and scornful taunt against the God who made the heavens and the earth. And when men demand to be freed from the constraints of reality, God frequently gives them over to their delusions. When men demand to be allowed to jump off tall buildings while flapping their arms eagerly, sometimes God lets them if only to point out that no amount of zeal can make up for the rather severe claims of gravitational pull.
As I imagine the situation, these barbarian hoards gathering to sack our cities with their delusions, I am reminded of that courageous man we now know as Leo the Great when that exuberant Hun named Attila and his diversity education committees showed up outside the gates of Rome in 452 A.D. We don’t know exactly what went down, what was said, what was promised, but we do know that Leo was apparently the third attempt at getting the Progressive Tribes to leave Rome alone. And we also know that after Leo met with Attila, the Huns departed. Maybe it was the weather, maybe Attila got a migraine, maybe Leo slipped an envelop of cash into the chieftain’s hand as he left, maybe Leo preached the gospel of Jesus and Attila was impressed. But whatever it was, God used it to give Rome a reprieve, and even when the Huns did return a few years later and sack the city, historians tell us that it was rather perfunctory and lacked the usual ruthless enthusiasm.
The point is that a Christian Minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ went to meet the danger. This is what Christian Ministers are ordained for. This is what it means to have hands laid on you. It means you are set apart to suffer and die for your people. This is what it means to be a pastor, a shepherd: it means walking toward the danger, toward the threat, toward the lions, the wolves, the swords, the flames. It means standing between the sheep and the threat. It means refusing to compromise and capitulate to terrorists. It means imitating and emulating our Head Pastor, the Chief Shepherd who gave His life for the sake of the sheep. He walked into the dark for us. He went out of the city for us and walked into the enemy camp. He stood between us and our sins and the justice they deserve, between us and our insane rebellion, between us and the Satans that demanded our blood. And He offered Himself in our place in order to turn the judgment away. He offered Himself in our place to save us from ourselves.
Whatever the exact history, we need of a pile of Leos, a generation of men who walk calmly and courageously to meet the dangers, to tell the truth, to risk life and limb and reputation. We need men who walk up to the Chiefs of the Barbarians and stand in the gap for their cities, their communities, their families, their nation. I realize we’ve just had an election and some of my friends are breathing a sigh of relief while others are rolling their eyes apathetically. I certainly hope and pray that some of the new men and women who have been elected will be courageous truth-tellers and insist at the bare minimum on talking sense, insisting on basic things like words have meaning and squares have four sides.
However, when we get to this part of the story, we need to realize that civilization won’t be renewed and restored by a constitutional amendment and overturning Obamacare. You can’t piece this vase back together. The cancer has metastasized, and the Senate is working with a body on life support. We’ve leaped off the ledge and gravity is giving us a robust oration. In other words, the only solution now is the gospel. The solution is pastors and evangelists, men who won’t be bribed by more free porn, women who do not sell their strength to the Facebook acceptance gods, people who are not cowed by the sneers of the terrorists who want to legally mandate impossibilities. We cannot pass a law that will undo what we have done, that will reverse time, or gag Professor Gravity. America must be saved, born again, raised from the dead. We deserve to hit the asphalt. We deserve to be roughed up by reality, and so the only way out of this mess is for a Savior to arise with with healing in His wings. We need Him to stand between us and the concrete; we need Him to bear our sin and make us new.
And when we are made new, we will rise from the ashes in a very different form. But that is no problem for us. We serve the Lord of the grave, and He is quite proficient in the art of resurrection.