Remember the ending of the original “Planet of the Apes” movie with Charlton Heston? It was so dramatic with Heston’s character falling on his knees in the sand and cursing the human race as the camera pans out to show a nearly destroyed Statue of Liberty, half buried in sand and water.
The film was universally seen as part Science Fiction, part morality play, but who among us dreamed it was also part prophesy?
The America I grew up in is gone; relegated to TV Land nostalgia and reviled as an ignorant, unenlightened piece of human history. America 2.0 is here. It looks similar to the original, but nearly everything beneath the skin has changed. For those of us who grew up in the first one, America 2.0 is like being in a parallel universe or waking up in an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.”
In the new world, Morality has been transformed into something personal, situational and democratic. We used to speak of truth, right and wrong, good and evil; now it’s Your/My truth, or how we identify.
Here in America 2.0 ‘Religion’ is bad and has been supplanted by ‘Spirituality’ as the preferred philosophy of the day. This NEW spirituality is tolerant of every world view except one based on the Bible, even if that world view wants to eliminate the one they hold.
The people of this new America have a different perspective on Government and our relationship to it. They look differently at social institutions like marriage and the family, as well as matters of life and death.
America 2.0 creates, embraces, enforces or overturns laws based on democracy and popular opinion rather than the constitution. I am not sure the Constitution is relevant to America 2.0 other than in some quaint, historic way.
It’s a strange feeling to live in a place where so much looks and sounds familiar, even comfortable, but beneath the surface is fundamentally different than what I know. Sometimes I become disoriented and confused, unable to get my bearings.
Looking back, I’ve had some of these emotions before. Thirty Five years ago, I moved from my familiar Old Kentucky Home, to the already Post Christian, United Kingdom, and my world was dumped on its head.
The U.K. was stunningly beautiful and offered great opportunity. The language was (mostly) the same, and on the surface the changes in culture were only slight. I thought adjusting would be a snap. Boy Howdy was I wrong.
I should have taken a cue from the fact that they drove on the opposite side of the road as I was used to doing, that there was a different way of thinking.
As the days slipped into months, the differences piled up, and I went into what’s called, Culture Shock. The Brits generally viewed EVERYTHING differently than I did. To one degree or another, culturally, socially, educationally, spiritually, morally, economically and politically, I was in unfamiliar, often uncomfortable, territory. The only similarity seemed to be that the British Politicians were just as stupid as American ones; just with differently cut suits.
Slowly, it dawned on me that I was the outsider and if I was ever going to reach people with the Gospel, I was going to have to accept that and would need to make some adjustments and learn to communicate in ways that were understood by the wonderful residents of my adopted country.
On the whole, I was able to adapt, and had a delightful 13 years in Great Britain (mostly spent in Scotland).
Those of us who are Christ Followers would be way ahead of the game, if, instead of railing against how our country has changed, and wasting time and energy trying to recreate the America of our past, would recognize we live in a different country; the one I call America 2.0, and treat it like a mission field. (How’s that for one complex sentence? Grammar Police, beware! Oops, too late.)
If I understand my Bible, and I think I do, our citizenship is in Heaven. We are foreigners here, and don’t fully belong. We are ambassadors of another Kingdom. We are here to promote the benefits of our home and encourage emigration from here to there (Remember, Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and that Peter reminded us in 1 Peter 2:11 that we are ‘strangers and aliens in this world’).
There are going to be many uncomfortable encounters as our world views collide. We must stay focused on our task, sharing good news and setting captives free. Paul reminds us in his second letter to Timothy that ‘a soldier does not get entangled in civilian affairs, but does his best to follow the orders of his commanding officer (4:2). Jesus’ Good News never changes, and sharing His hope and love is our singular mission. As men and women respond to Him, cultural, moral and even political challenges will work themselves out.
I urge the Church, to focus on people over culture shift, to keep the main thing the main thing. These things I’m suggesting are counter intuitive to what many of us have grown up believing related to faith and patriotism. I dare say, many of us, especially those of us on the social, political and religious ‘right’ side of the spectrum, have a hard time separating our Christianity from our patriotism. As a result, we lean towards conflating a ‘revival IN America’ with a ‘revival OF America’. The culture that WAS America has moved away. Whether it was better or worse than this America 2.0 is of no consequence. The Church, if we are truly the Church, we were foreigners then, just as we are aliens now.
We used to sing a song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” I’m challenging the body of Christ to return to that philosophy. As I understand the Bible, it is by HIS stripes, rather than the stars and stripes, that we are healed.
I went to Scotland as a Christian Ambassador, not an American one. It was not my place to get involved in their political wrangling. It was my job to preach Christ and Him crucified.
As Christ followers, we are not citizens of America OR America 2.0. What good does it do when we are obvious foreigners to them? We don’t even speak the same moral, spiritual or political language.
It is my deep conviction that we would do a better job pointing the citizens of America 2.0 to the true freedom of the Kingdom of God, rather attempting to turn the whole culture of a country back to a system that didn’t work any better than the one they’re trying to create now.
If you’ll permit an overly simple analogy, there is very little value in telling people not to play with matches if they’re house is already on fire. Our task, if you will, is to rescue people from the flames. We can worry about putting out fires, and fire safety after the rescue is completed.
The fact is, America has been replaced. We live in America 2.0. I suggest that rather than fall in the waves in despair and anger along with Charlton Heston, that we delight in the pioneer opportunities of bringing God’s Good News to a brand new place.