Leaving Our Heritage

D.A. Carson, at a conference in 2015: 

“. . . there is so much in this society that feels—with a certain amount of justification—that all those nasties on the Left are taking away our heritage! They’re perverting our schools! They’re overthrowing principles of jurisprudence! They’re making the city unsafe! And so there’s anger—there’s anger seething through the whole land.

“Now contrast that with the first Christians taking the gospel in the Roman Empire. They were nobodies. They didn’t have anybody taking away their heritage. They were out to take over the heritage. They looked around and saw an extremely pluralistic empire, and they said with Caleb, in effect, ‘Give us this mountain.’ And they kept witnessing and kept getting martyred, and so on, and there was a revolution, finally—a spiritual revolution.

“But we can’t do that today. At least we find it very difficult, because we’re so busy being angry all the time that at the end of the day not only do we lose our credibility with people on the Left—they start demonizing us back—but we have no energy or compassion left to evangelize them. When you’re busy hating everybody, and denouncing everybody, and seeking political solutions to everything, it’s very difficult to evangelize. Isn’t it? Very hard to be compassionate, to look on the crowds as though they’re sheep without a shepherd, very hard to look on them like that when they’re taking away ‘my heritage.’”

Carson’s point is obvious: many of us - more in the older generations, but not all - are angry that our “heritage” is being taken. Then, even if we share the gospel, no one will hear it. How could they, when it’s presented in wrapping paper of rage?

But there is a more subtle point here, to another group - more of us in the younger generations, but not all. We like to point out the unhelpful anger of our elders. But what are we doing? Are we out to “take over the heritage” of our place and time? Or have we become content with the present-day “heritage”? When we “look around” at our “extremely pluralistic empire”, do we say and pray “Give us this mountain”? Or instead contentedly turn on Netflix?

To be an authentic Christian means to “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life” (Luke 14:26) - to leave our heritage, whatever it is. What heritage must you leave behind? Is there a heritage you’re willing to die for?