Maginot Lines in the Sand

If we really are headed towards a Post-Christian America, what are we Christians supposed to do about that? People who grew up in the Church feel threatened, so our posture often becomes defensive. Our natural inclination is to think in terms of building fortresses to protect what’s dear to us. And while I have empathy for those with the fortress mentality, it feels short-sighted and wrong-headed. Like the Maginot Line in the Second World War. In many ways, honestly, the current state of the Church reminds me of France between the two World Wars (or maybe after the opening stage of the Second World War). We are in a fight for survival, and our enemies are powerful. But drawing “Maginot Lines in the sand” isn’t going to help anyone. Instead, I wonder if the Church would do better to embrace a resistance mindset.

I’ve been wondering about this for a while now. All the way back to my Amsterdam years, in fact. While our family was doing ministry in Europe, it seemed clearer that Christian culture had already been outflanked. There was no option for “Strong fortifications” (or even “Weak fortifications”). Christians were already inextricably intermingled with Atheists, and Muslims, and Communists, and every other sort of worldview. But we didn’t give up and just become “collaborators” with the “occupying forces.” Instead, we worked as underground freedom fighters. We used whisper campaigns and relational networks to maintain hope and identity. We learned how to connect with allies and work together for small victories along the way. And we kept the faith, keeping our eyes on a Liberation Day at some uncertain point on the horizon.

Can the American Church adopt a similar mindset? I don’t know. The fortress mentality is far more enmeshed in this context. We tend to think in terms of systems and structures and political organization. We build our identity around issues and affiliations. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

God regularly works through the “weak” and the disadvantaged. We don’t have to control culture in order to influence it. So, maybe it’s time to stop drawing our “Maginot Lines in the Sand.” Maybe it’s time to take the battle house to house, street corner to street corner, under the cover of darkness when needed. If we can just accept the fact that we’re living in “Vichy France,” we can use our energy in a lot of creative, meaningful ways. And we can keep looking forward to the great Liberation Day in Jesus.

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