I live in the home of the free, the land of the brave. The country with more wealth than any other, the most talented, inventive thinkers on earth, where anyone, regardless of his circumstance, can find success. I love my country.
Did you know that about 75% of people in this nation identify themselves as Christians? That's a pretty large majority, even if it is declining. With so many Christians, I would expect to find a nation full of people who stand up for what is right, do their best to obey the Bible, seek to reach the lost and show love to their fellow mankind. I would expect these Christians to have a huge impact on businesses, schools, laws, media, etc.
Um. I'm not seeing so much of that lately.
What I am noticing is increased mocking and demonizing of Christians. Anyone remember the war on Chick-fil-A? I am also saddened by the reputation that "Christians" have earned themselves in this nation. We are seen as cheap, judgmental, anti-gay, anti-this, anti-that, hypocritical, and the negative adjectives go on and on...
Here's an example of just one of those professing believers that I encountered while teaching. His child was in my class and we were meeting for our first conference. During this conference he spent most of the time explaining how rotten of a teacher I was for his child, raising his voice so loud that a teacher in a neighboring classroom was keeping an ear on the situation, should she need to call for a Principal's assistance. At the end of the conference, after he had degraded me to his best ability, he told me of his profound Christian faith. I found myself thinking, "You hypocrite! Get out of my classroom!"
I cannot judge his soul, as that is completely up to God, but his actions that day (and for the rest of the school year) were anything but Christian.
After my years of teaching in the public school system, I can count on one hand the number of children who felt confident enough to speak openly of their Christian faith. Oh sure, many spoke about going to church...but a relationship with Christ? Not so much. I saw just one student dare to bring a Bible to school and read it. Only ONE.
I listen to the radio and hear incredibly lewd lyrics. I turn on the TV to see shows where men are made out to be stupid oafs, women to be powerful and controlling, and kids void of respect. I get on my computer to be constantly bombarded by advertisements with scantily clad women. Even erotica for women is on the best seller list! Yuck. I see families out to eat together, more interested in their smart phones than having a real conversation. We've made it legal to kill innocent unborn children who are seen as inconvenient to their mothers. We are perverting the very definition of marriage, which was created by God. When will enough be enough?
So where are the Christians?
Sure, show up to any church on Sunday morning and you can find hundreds, if not thousands of church folk. They flood restaurants on Sunday afternoons. It's easy to spot them all dressed up in their Sunday best. But where do they go during the week? It seems as if we Christians go into hiding. Now, I'm speaking to myself as much as anyone, as I am in no way a poster child for perfection. But as I continue to search my own heart and observe the world around me, I grow increasingly burdened. Collectively, are we cowards? Have we lost hope? Would we rather live in our little bubble, ignoring the world around us? Are we afraid of offending someone? Are we really followers of Christ? Are we using church to seek social stature? Are we using God for nothing more than a moral compass? Are we any different than people who do not profess our faith? Do we even know what the Bible says?
Here's what I have a hard time wrapping my mind around: politicians told our kids not to pray or bring Bibles into schools, so we stopped equipping our children to live out their faith at school. We have made them afraid to be "overtly Christian" in their public schools (a generalization, I know there are exceptions). Songs with lewd lyrics wouldn't be popular if 75% of this nation didn't listen to them and buy them. Those TV shows would be canceled if 75% of this nation didn't watch them regularly. Scantily clad women wouldn't be bombarding the internet if 75% of this nation didn't click on them. Shoot, even women's erotica would not be a bestseller if professing Christian women would not buy it. Laws would not be passed that go directly against God's Word if 75% of this nation would stand up for what is right. You know what we are doing? We are overlooking sinful things because we are afraid of what people will say about us...and we enjoy the sin. We partake in it gladly and just don't talk about it with our church friends. Some of us are completely lost and don't even realize it.
Ouch. It's true.
1 Corinthians 16:13
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong."
So I've done some soul searching of my own. I refuse to be a cowardly Christian. I reject the perverse media that bombards our daily lives. I do not want to be seen as a hypocrite. In fact, I feel that I must work against these things. No shying away from tough conversations, but I want people to notice a difference in me without having to throw my "religion" in their faces. I want my life to be a testimony of God's grace to me, because that's what it is- grace. I am no different than anyone, except for God's grace extended to me.
1 Peter 3:13-14
"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."
Christians, it's time to stand up for what we believe. We need not be afraid. There is nothing wrong with being outspoken about our faith. We need to live out our faith daily and think twice about ways we support things that go against God.
2 Timothy 1:7
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
What kind of example will I be to my son if do not live by the Word I expect him to follow? I know will fail at times. I will need to be lifted up. But at least I'm not afraid and not hiding...