When Karl Marx Comes To Church

Karl Marx came to church today. But, he was much younger than I imagined. A man in his early twenties, Karl didn’t look like the political theorist I read about in the history books. Far from an orderly-attired Prussian dignitary, Karl dressed more like a roadie for the Grateful Dead. His tie-dyed t-shirt with Social Justice Warrior embroidered on his heart, his faded blue jeans with empty pockets, and his tattered birkenstocks made him look more like a victim of a revolution rather than an instigator of one.

Todays View of Karl in the History Books

Today’s View of Karl in the History Books
As I watched Karl, I asked myself, “How should I interact with him?” I am a conservative evangelical. Karl is a rabid socialist. We are from different worlds. His world is a world of subjective ideals, oppression, and fighting against the establishment. In contrast, my world concerns itself with objective truth, sin and suffering, and in Karl’s eyes, I’m sure I am the establishment.

Todays Karl in the Pew

Today’s “Karl” in the Pew
So, what should I do? My first thought was that Karl was in need of a jarring rebuke. But I heard Francis Schaeffer’s squeaky voice whispering in my ear, “He to whom you speak is one of our kind!” Schaeffer reminded me that Karl didn’t need a reality check, he needed a Savior. For as misguided as he was, he was still a human being, created in God’s image, and lost in his sin.

Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer
Karl needed someone who loved him enough to engage him, to help him examine his presuppositions, to show him the inconsistencies in his worldview, and to make plain how Jesus brings coherence to his misgivings.

In learning to love someone like Karl, we must remember these individuals came into the world in a confusing time in history. Unlike we Gen-X’ers, Karl’s generation grew up in a culture of affluence, participation trophies, postmodern philosophy, and political correctness. (And, oh by the way, it is our generation that parented Karl and all the others in his little-snowflake peer group).

We must show Karl that his problem is not oppression but sin and his solution is not revolution but redemption. With care, we must communicate these truths with gentleness and respect not harshness and disdain. We must confront Karl with the gospel, but let that confrontation occur in the context of a loving relationship where the fruit in our lives stands in sharp relief against the meaninglessness of his own. It is in this type of relationship that God tills the ground making the heart more receptive to the gospel.

So, as you worship this Sunday, search for Karl, engage him, love him, confront him, and show him by your actions the reality of the gospel in your life. Karl might dismiss your overtures now, but by God’s grace, he will thank you in eternity.

Do you struggle with the millennial generation? If so, where does God want you to grow and change? What does he want you to do?