There is a type of question I get all the time, most recently during the book tour for Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus. The questions that came from countless pastors and lay leaders in local churches were this: “What can I do as this political and spiritual crisis gets worse and worse? How do we even begin to respond to the enormous needs and stakes of this moment in American history and the future of Christianity in this country?”
I believe the answer to these questions, now more than ever, is go to back to Jesus and help fellow believers and seekers to do the same. Don’t mistake me: While a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is central to my life and identity, what the country most urgently needs in this moment is to see Christians following the example and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
As I laid out the blueprint for Christ in Crisis, I attempted to answer the questions that Jesus prompted during his ministry — and I’ve found that exercise to be the most valuable response we can have to our current political, moral, and religious crisis. It’s a response that transcends the narrow political labels of “left” or “right,” and rather examines how best to engage in life and faith together.
Amid our present turmoil, Christians want to know how to reclaim the true teachings and person of Jesus and how to encourage their Christian friends, church members, and loved ones to do the same. And we are seeking to help Sojourners readers answer those questions as we get into the full swing of a new year that will bring the most important election in any of our lifetimes.
Next month, we embark upon the liturgical season of Lent. There will be calls for prayer, fasting, and repentance. Even now, I know many pastors and small group and Bible study facilitators are planning their seasonal studies. To that end, we are providing you with a resource, a practical tool, to help those who wish to actively discuss and explore what it will take to reclaim Jesus in this time of spiritual and political crisis, particularly in the context of Lent. Given what we are facing in both the nation and church, deep Lenten reflection is urgently needed. It is in this spirit that we offer a Lenten study guide based on Christ in Crisis, called “Back to Jesus in a Time of Fear, Falsehood, Hate, and Violence.” The book itself is also currently available at a significantly discounted rate.
It’s hard to deny we’re living in a fearful time, and 2020 has thus far served to amplify and validate many of our fears about the future. Lent calls us to go deeper. It’s a time to gather with other believers in your life, church members, friends, and family to ask, “What did Jesus teach and what did he do? How does following Jesus and obeying what Jesus said and did relate to the most urgent moral questions we are facing now? And how can Jesus help us make the crucial decisions of citizenship?”
This resource guide provides nine sessions focused on the key questions that Jesus either asked or prompted — questions we must all wrestle with and answer in this fearful time. Our Lenten study guide is meant to be a starting place, with many easy-to-use resources (such as scripture, prayers, free audio and video clips, and discussion questions) for those who struggle to talk about issues that often feel too provocative or polarizing to discuss in church. I hope it will help you discover how the questions Jesus Christ built his calling to discipleship around are exactly the questions that can provide clarity and courage in our current crisis.
This is so much more than just another election year coming up. What is at stake is a test of democracy and a test of faith — the future of the nation and the future of the church. The church is in danger of losing the next generation if we don’t address critical issues like racism and xenophobia, climate change, economic inequality, and institutional corruption and abuse. We already see far too many young people turning away from religion in disgust.
Let me be clear: If most white Christians support or ignore the dangerous American brand of white nationalism we see rising again, we will lose the authenticity of our faith. This movement toward racialized nationalism and authoritarian rule, which we also see around the world, evokes and provokes America’s worst instincts and demons, as opposed to what Lincoln called, “the better angels of our nature.” This is modern-day “spiritual warfare” that we must confront with more powerful spiritual forces than just political debate.
It’s a hard time to be a follower of Jesus. But I believe this moment of crisis offers an opportunity to speak to those we shepherd with clarity and conviction on the issues we face — for their lives, our country, and our world at this moment of both danger and opportunity. Most importantly, this crisis is indeed an opportunity to help people get back to Jesus.
To place a bulk order of 25 copies or more of Christ in Crisis, please contact the publisher at SPSales@harpercollins.com