The United States has spent well nigh a trillion dollars in a war against people in Iraq after having been misled – if not willfully deceived – into the war.

What did your pastor say to your congregation about it?

The United States spent almost a trillion dollars to bail out investment companies whose misguided self-dealing policies helped weaken the world economy.

What did your pastor say to your congregation about it?

Last winter, the Congress and President Obama agreed to extend unemployment benefits to working people who’ve lost their jobs only if tax breaks were extended to the wealthiest people in our society.

In Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states, politicians have enacted measures to undermine the right of public employees to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.

What did your pastor say about it?

People who never opposed trillion-dollar wars and who supported extending tax breaks for millionaires have threatened to shut down the government unless the nation cuts benefits to the elderly (Medicare), reduces funding for early learning programs for needy children (Head Start), and slashes funding that helps poor people who can’t afford medical care (Medicaid).

What did your pastor say about it?

I suspect your pastor said nothing, or you can’t recall what he or she said. But you can refute my suspicion easily by recalling the last time your pastor issued a prophetic challenge about the misplaced priorities that elevate war over peace, investment bankers over wage-earners, and that justify breaking promises to working people about workplace conditions.

When have you questioned the silence? Why haven’t you questioned it? Could it be that you’d rather not be prophetic?

Jesus told his followers that they were to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But congregations apparently don’t want to be prophetic, judging from the way many church members appear content with the status quo.

We spend more energy fretting about traditional versus contemporary worship styles than we do war and peace.

Somehow many people of faith have decided that loving God doesn’t require attention to social issues. So we spend more time thinking about church décor than we do community well-being.

Our veteran neighbors and their families continue struggling with the physical, moral, financial, social and emotional damage caused by our continued military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Have you noticed that those wars aren’t even making front-page headlines anymore?

When was the last time your congregation talked about the disconnect between U.S. military adventurism and the gospel of Jesus Christ? When was the last time anyone questioned why you won’t talk about it?

Most congregations probably haven’t honestly talked about the self-centered materialism at the heart of Tea Party rhetoric against paying taxes.

When politicians introduce legislation that would allow people to bring weapons into places of worship, mission groups and Sunday School classes haven’t shown up at legislative hearings to denounce the measures.

When bills have been introduced to deny educational benefits and other public assistance to undocumented immigrants, most of our congregations have been like the priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan lesson. We’ve averted our eyes.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a prophetic gospel, but it’s sure getting hard to find congregations that want to be prophetic.

Perhaps we’d rather be conformed than transformed. Perhaps we’d rather be with Pontius Pilate than with Jesus. Perhaps we’d rather have crosses on our buildings than bear the cross of God’s love in our living.

And perhaps we don’t think God knows or cares about the difference. Perhaps prophetic life isn’t what God expects of the followers of Jesus.

Jesus said something that just keeps me from accepting that perspective:

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world … Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God…” (Matthew 5:14-16, The Message).

It sure looks like we’ve forgotten this dimension of discipleship. Perhaps we never wanted it.

Wendell L. Griffen is pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Ark.

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