I didn’t get it.. for years… but, now I know….
After reading a brilliant piece of writing from Benjamin Sledge, I was moved.
He suggested that we all just stop pretending Christianity is still relevant.
He’s got a point….
For my entire life, I’ve always felt a strong need to preface any talk of my faith with an apology.
Saying things like “I don’t mean to be ‘woo woo,’ but…”
Even when I talk to other Christians, including my wife. I feel weird talking about Satan and God’s power and demons and all of these things that I know are real and true.
And I can’t help but wonder: If it feels weird for me, how does it feel for non-Christians?
And maybe it’s because for a long time, and if I’m honest this is still true, I feel like when I say Christian, people hear homophobe, bigot, anti-Muslim, pro life, republican, conservative.
Stereotypes can’t exist in a vacuum.
What we have to realize is that there are people flying the same flag as us who are bigots, who hate muslims, who hate gays, who believe this book gives them a call to judge.
Be honest. You see it. You see it on Facebook. You hear it over dinner conversation when people feel “safe” to talk of such things.
Especially if you’re white, like me.
We’ve come so far from where we began.
I’m fascinated by where we came from.
The world that the first Christians lived in was not one conducive to our beliefs.
Jesus says in John 13:
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Juxtapose that with what Demosthenes, a Greek speaker and statesman, who some time in the mid-300s BC, wrote:
”We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body; we keep wives for the begetting of children and for the faithful guardianship of our homes.”
The entire world around this tiny sect of Jews, that we call Christians, looked at them with disgust. And not just for their faith (our faith), but in how they lived their lives (how we should live our lives).
They associated with slaves.
They hung out with prostitutes.
They treated women as equals.
They cared for unwanted elderly and children.
They were the first to rush to aid when plague and sickness struck.
These early Christians clung to one essential truth that had been passed on to them:
Jesus cared for others, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, social status, wealth, race, or any other qualifying factor. His grace was for all. And if God’s grace was for all people, then we too must care for all people.
Tertullian, an early Christian writer remarked that pagans looked upon Christians thinking “look at how they love one another and how ready they are to die for one another.”
This is how Christianity spread.
Not by forcing our morals onto others through law.
Not by judging others for their lifestyle.
By living in the world and caring for ALL of God’s people.
And in our failure to do that, we have to admit…
Christianity May Be Dying
It’s an odd thing, really.
None of my non-Christian friends have ever tried to force their beliefs on me.
Only 18% of millennials find Christianity relevant to their lives despite 70% of Americans identifying themselves as Christian.
And why is that?
Maybe it’s because when people groups who feel like their lives don’t matter say that they, in fact, do matter, we disagree.
Maybe it’s because when people seek refuge in our nation, despite the Bible saying we should help them, we disagree.
Maybe it’s because when our government says that equal rights for “all people” really means “all” people, we disagree.
Maybe it’s because when we have the chance to provide health care for all, we disagree.
“Is it really a wonder that nobody wants to be asked to conform to our moral beliefs because we’re quoting to them from a book they’ve never read?” — Sledge
Instead of acting like the early church did, with empathy and compassion and acceptance, we run rampant in the streets and on social media, pointing fingers at others.
What we’re seeing is the end of the church age and, honestly, I’m excited about it. Because like most things, toward the end we revert back to where we were at the beginning.
I’m excited to be the underdogs again.
I’m excited to be an outsider.
I’m excited to for Christianity to not be normal.
I’m excited for Christianity not to be cool.
It’s not cool to give money to missionaries and the church instead of buying a new iPhone.
It’s not cool to wait until you’re married to have sex.
It’s not cool to be sober.
It’s not cool to serve people who don’t know you, and can’t repay you.
And all without posting about it on Instagram.
And that’s good.
They will confirm my fears and look at our beliefs as ‘woo woo’ and nonsense.
But you know what won’t be nonsense?
Our genuinely non-judgemental acceptance.
All given freely because God has given it to us.
All of a sudden, like in the early church, people will wonder what makes us different.
Why are we nice to people who treat us poorly?
Why do we care about people whose beliefs differ from our own?
Is Christianity Dying? The Charge I Give Myself.
I was born in 1984 and that makes me one of the oldest millennials.
If you’re a millennial like me, whether you like it or not, you’re the future of Christianity and the church.
Honestly, the world already sees enough dirtbag Christians.
Christians who hoard their money.
Christians who think racial slurs are funny.
Christians who respond to Black Lives Matter with “All lives matter.”
Christians who think we shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s health care.
Christians who think we should ban immigrants from primarily muslim nations.
Christians who have no problem judging others to eternal damnation.
If we no longer want these vile characteristics to be synonymous with our faith, with our savior, we better start living it.
Us, reading this, we decide the future.
A future where people see the grace of God through us or in spite of us.
Which will it be?