Recently, the New York Times ran an article titled, “Torn over Donald Trump and Cut Off by Culture Wars, Evangelicals Despair.”
Those final two words – Evangelicals despair – caught the attention of Christian talk show host, Carmen LaBerge because it describes a blatant contradiction:
“Despair means an utter lack of hope, an abandonment of any hope whatsoever. You cannot take the word ‘evangelical’ and the word ‘despair’ and couple them together. It’s theologically inaccurate. It’s an inaccurate representation of who the Church is, what she believes, and where her hope rests.”
LaBerge reminds American Christians that our true home is in God’s Kingdom. Even the most concerning political predictions in our temporal country should not become bigger in our mind than our identity and security in Jesus.
“When we are thinking about the church, the Church universal and the Church triumphant, we need to remember that we’re talking about an eternal reality which rests in the lordship of Jesus Christ. It rests on nothing regarding the politics of the day, or who’s running for office, who ends up winning, whose leadership we have to submit ourselves to over the next four to eight years.”
“So I think as Christians, we have to get a grip on the prospective that we have as Christ’s people in the world today, regardless of the government under whose authority we live, or the nation state within which we reside.”
Is it a sin for Christians to despair? LaBerge believes so, since the absence of all hope is antithetical to the reality of God and the Gospel. She recalls the strengthening words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, and how that passage helps overcome a lack of hope:
“(Paul’s) talking about not losing heart–that is actually,’“Do not despair.’ He says, ‘although our outer nature is wasting away.’ That outer nature is anything that is of his world, the personal aging process, the wasting away of even human relationships or government structures, the erosion, not just of physical things, but of relationships and morality.”
“Even though our outer nature is wasting away, for Christians, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. That is a declaration of what the Gospel is actively doing in the life of a believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. So to despair, even if things in the world are wasting away, to despair is antithetical to the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul had many opportunities to confront fear and destruction.
“Think about Paul and his life, what he endured. For him to refer to all those things as ‘light and momentary afflictions,’ and in the face of all that not to despair, it makes our version of Christianity look really really weak by comparison.”
“He says all of this is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory. There’s really no comparison whatsoever, as we look at the things that that are seen right now.”
It is that distinction between the seen and the unseen that LaBerge encourages Christians to remember:
“We have to keep in mind the transient nature of the things that we see around us (and even in us sometimes). We have to be declaring with our lives, our words and our testimony, the reality of that which is unseen. And we’ve got to help people reconnect the eternal with the everyday.”
Carmen LaBerge is the host of “The Reconnect with Carman LaBerge” radio show. She seeks to bring the Biblical worldview to bear on whatever is happening in the world and help people cultivate an understanding of critical issues from God’s perspective.Why Christians can't despair, with Carmen LaBerge