Monday, March 29, 2021

Good News for the Woke


The woke movement is a works-based religion. By nature, work-based religions contradict themselves. They require you to earn your own righteousness, yet your own righteousness is never enough for genuine acceptance or assurance. Religions such as these place you at the bottom of a downward-moving escalator that is running toward the floor faster than you could ever climb upward.

"There's rest at the top," you're told. But no one has ever been there.

Woke is an adjective used for a person who has "woken up," or become alert to certain perceived injustices in society, particularly as they pertain to skin colors (though this term has been applied to supporters of the LGBTQ movement as well). Simply put: If a person has stated that it is his or her desire to oppose whiteness, he or she is woke. 

"What is 'whiteness'?" you may ask. It seems that at a basic level, "whiteness" refers to perceived privileges some people have because they have lighter skin and such benefactors should seek to renounce those privileges. That's Psychology Today's definition, anyway. "Today" is an apt moniker, because defining all the factors at play in the woke movement is a challenge. Stated meanings and goals change with the seasons, so trying to keep up with the latest definitions and purposes is a fool's errand.

The World and the Church

The fight against whiteness has become a virtuous one. It has permeated the world. Coca-Cola has incorporated it into their employee training. Public schools are also joining in battle. An entire town is being asked to atone for past sins. California is considering how to offer reparations to African-Americans on a statewide level.

Many churches have joined in the fight against whiteness, too. If you scroll through Twitter, you'll find many Christian voices -- pastors and laypeople alike -- who are advocating for woke behavior in Christian institutions. Consider the tweets below.

The #LeaveLoud movement popped up recently as a way to encourage those with darker skin colors to not simply leave a Christian organization or church when there are perceived injustices, but to leave in such a way as to publicly shame those involved. Thabiti Anyabwile, a councilmember for The Gospel Coalition who recently distanced himself from theological movements he previously embraced, disagrees with the spirit of #LeaveLoud, yet blames the movement on white people. 

All this noise constitutes just some of the most recent installments of calls for reform in the Christian community. Matt Chandler has advocated for "Affirmative Action"-style hiring practices in the church. Beth Moore has advocated for "Affirmative Action"-style book purchasing in Christian ministry. Book clubs are being formed in churches and Christian communities specifically for the purpose of "deconstructing" whiteness in the church by reading through the most popular woke authors of the day. Certainly, in the coming days there will be more and more efforts to fight whiteness in Christian circles.

Can't Get No Satisfaction

What's going to be the end of all this? It's hard to say. Perhaps it's easier to identify what the end is not.

The woke movement won't end with forgiveness, reconciliation, or peace. Social justice, as defined within this movement, doesn't seek genuine biblical justice, but rather revenge. It doesn't seek equality of opportunity, but rather equality of outcome. The starting point isn't Scripture, but rather secular theory. All these elements lead the followers of the movement away from God's holiness and toward division and discontentment.

This is all most clearly seen when people or organizations identify as woke and seek to atone for that which they've been accused of. Instead of being accepted and assured, they're often criticized for not doing enough. Remember what was stated in the introduction: Works-based religions never let you rest. It's never enough.

Consider how this is seen in the LGBTQ movement. One person says it's not enough for a church to avoid "homophobia" -- the church must affirm homosexuals. Another person comes along and says affirming homosexuals isn't enough -- the church must celebrate them. Next step: The church must employ a minimum number of them and outlaw anyone who disagrees. 

When it comes to issues of skin color, it's all very similar. One woman says that reparations for slavery won't be enough. The United Methodist Church (which, for all intents and purposes, is full-on woke) published an article written by one of it's leaders saying that the United Methodist Church "has not done nearly enough." Countless articles have been written about doing more, because the work is never done. This work is often political, seeing governmental involvement as a major solution to the ills faced by minorities.

A Gospel That Does Nothing

The consequences of the woke movement are dire. If the hamster wheel of wokeism is rejected, even if for a more biblical approach to these issues, a person is to be marked and avoided. There is no room for disagreement on these issues. Racism is America's original sin and the secular theories found in this movement are America's savior. If you reject that gospel, you are under condemnation, not to be accepted by the group. Consider the tweet below, which features the heart of woke movement applied to supporters of Donald Trump.

I don't know if the author of this tweet claims to be a Christian; however, the sentiment expressed here is found throughout Christian circles. If you're not woke, you don't deserve forgiveness.

But the sad reality is that even if you are woke, you still aren't forgiven.

There is no forgiveness for those who are in wokeism. There is only condemnation, guilt, shame, and endless expectation. Just like every other works-righteousness religious system out there, you're never going to be good enough to obtain acceptance and assurance. You're expected to continuously run up the downward escalator, never able to reach the top. You're trapped. But you don't have to be.

The Gospel That Does Everything

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is Romans 8:1. This is the heart of the true gospel that offers true pardon and rest. This is the great pronouncement of the Creator God who accepts and assures those made in His image when they trust in the finished work of Christ alone. It's the ultimate work of justice, reconciliation, and righteousness -- and it's for all who believe in His name.

Many people who have involved themselves in the woke movement have been burned. They've gotten involved in order to establish a little more "heaven on earth," but have been left feeling absolutely empty inside as they've been rejected by the same ones who recruited them. They've been told to do more, though they've already done so much. They were promised peace in exchange for their work, only to find more hatred and division.

Yet, Jesus and His church remain, offering true, everlasting peace. This peace is experienced on earth amid hardship and trial, not in place of hardship and trial. This peace is fully realized spiritually right now, awaiting the time when it will be fully realized among men in all our relationships. This peace is freely given because of Jesus' work and no one can take it away.

So, if you're woke, can I make a plea to you?

Go to the gospel of Jesus Christ and camp out there. Put your eyes on Him and Him alone. Join yourself with a local church that does the same. Experience the acceptance and assurance offered in Jesus that the secular theories were never able to give you. Experience the peace you've desired that your own works couldn't earn you. Be free.

Some Resources

Perhaps you're wanting to learn more about the woke movement and how the church should respond. I'll close with some information that should help you navigate these choppy waters.

If you have three and a half hours, here's a great conversation from the Just Thinking Podcast about the heart of the movement, critical race theory:

If you have four hours, here's a sermon series by yours truly on social justice:

If you'd rather read, here's an excellent statement on social justice and the gospel:

Here's a helpful article from Jared Longshore and a video conversation from him and Tom Ascol: //

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