HOOVER, Ala. (BNC) by Chuck Webster — Some of the stuff going on in our country frightens me, and from looking at social media and some of my favorite blogs, I don’t think I’m alone.
The number of Christians in America is decreasing. There’s racial unrest in Baltimore (and everywhere, it seems). Nine justices in our nation’s capital are contemplating a verdict that may redefine marriage. Laws are being passed that make it illegal to act on your religious faith.
Scary times, indeed.
But since we believe in a God who’s in control, we can’t become doomsdayers every time something bad happens. We know the sky won’t fall unless God gives it permission.
But neither do we want to stick our heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge troubling trends. Doing that would likely keep us from speaking as clearly to pressing issues as we should.
So, if we avoid both naivete as well as faithless hand-wringing and take a cautious look around us, what do we see? And having seen what we see, what do we do?
It probably shouldn’t surprise us that we see a world that’s worldly. Maybe our view has been skewed, equating America with Christianity and forgetting that God’s kingdom is not of this world. It’s good to live in a country that’s been shaped in many ways by a Christian worldview, but it’s not all good.
We tend to relax and get complacent. Worse, we start to think that Christianity doesn’t really involve life-changing and cross-carrying decisions. We start to think that it’s easy.
You probably know that America’s opinion of Christianity has plummeted in recent years, but you may not have noticed that this souring attitude has been inversely proportional to the rise of the Religious Right. In other words, the more our country sees the merging of Christianity and politics, the less they think of us.
We haven’t used our influence to win the hearts of our fellow Americans.
That influence—for good or bad—is waning. When they sit down to discuss values, ethics, and public policy, they’re kicking our seat away from the table. They’re muzzling the Christian voice.
So what do we do?
Pack up our toys and move to a more Christian-friendly part of the world?
A better move is to draw courage from the majority of history’s Christians. It may sound weird to us, but many of God’s people in history have lived in cultures that hated them. In fact, millions who claim the name of Christ live in hostile regions right now.
Best I can tell, God never encouraged his people to run away from opposition. He didn’t push them toward Christian communes. He didn’t tell them to go to the easiest places. And he certainly didn’t tell them to make their convictions more palatable.
The apostle John said, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 5:13).
Jesus said the world hates those who are not of the world (John 17:14).
Things are changing, and I’m almost certain the future will involve challenges for Christians that previous generations here haven’t known.
But instead of being paralyzed by fear, perhaps we should look to the future with optimism. Whatever happens, it won’t surprise God, and he’s grown his church in some of the most incredible ways in some of the most hostile places.
Whatever the American Supreme Court decides, there’s a Higher Court that claims our allegiance. Whatever hate, opposition, and intolerance we stir up because of our unwillingness to walk away from Jesus, we serve a God who accepts us based on what he’s done for us.
We’re confident, not because the future will make it easier to be a Christian, but because perhaps it’ll be easier for us to see the choices that our faith calls us to make.
Jesus reigns today, and he’ll reign tomorrow.
Chuck is a gospel preacher working with the Hoover congregation, near Birmingham AL. This article was published on his site, “Growing in Your Walk with Christ,” and used with permission.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three married children and five grandchildren. He enjoys his new home office. http://randal.us