The Camelot Syndrome
The Only Eternal Kingdom
As we observe social, cultural, and moral decay in our country, we need to know how to respond in a way that reflects our trust in the God who is sovereign over all of history and whose kingdom is the only one that will endure.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency in American evangelical Christianity to place more hope in our earthly country than in our heavenly one. This mindset is a Camelot syndrome in which we long for a lost golden age. For evangelicals, this usually includes a false hope in a Christianized version of the United States. As a result, we act as if our hope is slipping away as our country and its leaders become more and more corrupted and go the way of the world. We forget that every nation, no matter how glorious at first, will come to an end. And we forget that our God is the one in control of this:
It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings.
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth.
Our war is not against flesh and blood but against the evil spiritual forces at work—the world, the flesh, and the devil. And the kingdom we ought to be most concerned about is the kingdom of God. The kingdoms of this world can easily succumb to these evil spiritual forces, but God’s kingdom will always be waging war against them.
How Then Shall We Live?
How are we called to live in the midst of such spiritual warfare? Philippians 2:15–16 gives us some insight:
… so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
First, our character must distinguish us from the rest of the world. We must “prove [ourselves] to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach.”
Second, we must understand our culture, but not let it define us. We need to recognize that we do not live in a benevolent world, but “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” For this reason, we should use our time whenever possible to invest in the Word of God rather than in the things of the world. Rather than wringing our hands over the events of today, we must remind ourselves where our enduring hope comes from. For must of us, this “Word-to-world ratio” is far too small. But we must recognize that we will be defined by what we consume and so guard our hearts, lest our devotion to Christ become corrupted (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Third, we must recognize our calling to be “lights in the world,” holding out Christ as the only hope for those walking in darkness.
Fourth, we must continually look forward to the coming of Christ. This will provide the eternal perspective we need to navigate this present darkness as pilgrims, sojourners, and aliens.
It is true that many difficulties lie before us in this country. And we are called to be agents of salt in light in whatever circumstances God places us. But do not forget that, counterintuitively, we will do more earthly good as we become more heavenly-minded. We must pursue the kingdom of God more than the kingdom of man. And in this way we will become better agents of transformation in our earthly country than we would be otherwise.
May we set our hearts on what will endure rather than on what is passing away.