This past week I have been at presbytery camp in Washington state up by the Canadian border. Now that I am back in the California Republic, I am reminded of all of the criticisms and negative comments that Christians have against this great state in which I dwell.
California should be important to those who love Jesus for many reasons, including the following:
California is the fifth largest economy in the world, competing against other nations. China, Germany, Japan, India, France are her economic competitors, not New York, Iowa, Florida or Oregon.
Secondly, one in eight Americans are Californians. Read that again: one in eight Americans are Californians. Is one in eight churches in California? Is one in eight American Christians a Californian? This state has 40 million souls; 40 million men and women, boys and girls made in the image of God. Is that important to you, Christian?
Thirdly, California is an important state for culture making. Hollywood and Silicon Valley have more influence in your daily life than you may ever imagine; or at least more than you may ever want to admit. As goes California, so goes the nation.
The lack of care for California, by many Christians, whether in jest or with heartfelt distain, reminds me of the book of Jonah. I will be back in Los Angeles Monday, but this evening, sitting in a farmhouse in the central valley surrouded by miles of grapes, I re-read Jonah 4 with California in mind.
It goes something like this:
Jonah 4, a California revison:
But God's mercy towards California displeased the American Christian exceedingly, and they were angry. 2 And they prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what we said when we were yet in our country? That is why we made haste to flee away from California; for we knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take our lives from us, for it is better for us to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” 5 American Christian went out of the state of California and sat to the east of the state and made a tent for themselves there. They sat under it in the shade, so they should see what would become of the state. 6 Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over American Christian, that it might be a shade over their head, to save them from their discomfort. So American Christian was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of American Christian so that they were faint. And they asked that they might die and said, “It is better for us to die than to live.” 9 But God said to American Christian, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And American Christian said, “Yes, we do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity California, that great state, in which there are more than 40 million persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much influence and wealth?”