In the 1955 classic film, Rebel Without a Cause, gang-leader Buzz challenges James Dean’s character, Jim Stark, the new kid in town, to a “chickie run.” They will race each other toward the edge of a cliff in stolen cars. The first who jumps out is the defeated “chicken.”
Buzz and Jim meet at cliff’s edge and solemnly survey the long drop to the bottom. Buzz, warming to his rival, soberly tells him, “You know, I like you.” “Then why are we doing this…?” asks Jim. “We’ve got to do something,” is Buzz’s reply.
A chickie run is tough, but Buzz and Jim can never prove their strength and manhood in this way. They both have teenage problems – rooted within. The crowd of kids will look on approvingly and the girls will swoon, but they both will still lose. They need to “do something.” But it sure ain’t this.
I couldn’t help but see a loose parallel between Buzz’s “got to do something,” attitude and what I believe is currently happening in the church.
While facing severe and debilitating corrosion from within, the church would rather focus on social activism. But could that be a chickie run? This activism may address challenging issues, but is it missing the mark?
Ending war or world hunger are insurmountable tasks. We may march for peace or distribute food, but are we offering truth – the truth that sets us free in an eternity with no war or hunger?
The poor will always be with us, says our Savior, but only a few of the hungry, those who travel the narrow road, will ever find Him. It is a noble task to reach out to those in need, with soul empathy for our brothers and sisters who dwell on this earth with us.
Each one of us is but a step or a few steps away from poverty or terminal illness. God’s mercy is desperately needed. But as we offer our efforts, we must remember that we all are poor – in need of salvation – and only answering His call to repentance will truly nourish His people.
As the Church called by our Savior, we need to keep our eyes on the prize. Like Buzz, we need to “do something.” Divine direction tells us that this “something” is the making of disciples. To accomplish this we must stand for truth, in teaching others to obey everything our Savior has commanded.
In recent years it has become painfully obvious that the truth specifically in regards to sexual morality is a new battlefront on which we wage our spiritual struggle. “Gay Christians” have become more and more visible, as we see more so-called “inclusive,” and even “gay churches.”
Today, the corrosion from within has reached the point where the unrepentant sexually immoral can join in fellowship in many so-called Christian churches. “Come as you are” is the code expression, hung in rainbow banners and proclaimed in the church sign out front. These “churches” are clearly reaching out for growth in a new demographic – LGBTQ.
Apparently, the call to repentance in some churches has been replaced by social activism and inclusivity – a new Great Commission! Doing good to all is our job, and, admittedly, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. But we can’t walk with Him at all if we refuse to follow Him.
Satan laughs in chains as he sees many churches proclaim their new favorite Bible verse, “God is love.” Nowadays, these “churches” say, the sinner needs more love, not repentance. A church with no one who recognizes that he is a sinner is a church that has zero members in the Book of Life.
Of course, we welcome the sinner – which is each one of us – even those who have lived in every kind of depravity. But repentance is the ticket which the Great Conductor requires to travel on His train. His Church needs to proclaim the first words of His ministry in Matthew. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”