I am not nearly as concerned about how other Christians receive me as I am about how non-Christians receive me and my faith.
Why? First, because I am not trying primarily to influence Christians. I love Christians, but they are not my most urgent desire.
Second, because I have found that many Christians have become so quick to hear what they want to hear, no matter what you say or how you say it. And in most circumstances, when words and actions are twisted, it’s in a negative way that fuels their having something to stand against or label as “wrong” or “offensive.” It’s almost as if we have determined that “assuming,” “conjecture,” “spin,” and “being offended” are new gifts of the Spirit. Most Christians listen not to understand, but to see if what you say fits with what they believe.
In fact, I am not sure who dropped who as a child, but it seems a majority of Christians these days, particularly Evangelicals have a whiney, insecure chip on their shoulder and their radars set to high sensitivity. They seem locked and loaded, ready to strike out against even the slightest blip on their “this is wrong” screen. Many Christians have become self-declared experts in and increasingly known for what they are against. With language like “persecuted,” “targeted,” “violated” “discriminated” and alike, they are quick to sound the alarm, take up arms, choose sides, and declare apocalyptic doom and gloom when they feel threatened or conclude they aren’t getting their way in culture.
Are Christians being mistreated and/or discriminated against in America? In certain instances, I am sure they are. Are there problems in the world, things that need addressing and improving? I am sure there are. Do we Christians sometimes get treated unfairly while being given the short end of the stick? Sure. Could Christians say they have various kinds of “enemies” within our culture? I suppose so. Depending on your flavor of Christianity and what you deem to be right and wrong, you have things you are against and things that you feel are against you. Yet truthfully, that reality only puts Christians (no matter the variety) in the same parking lot as just about every other group or believe-set on planet earth.
Yet sadly, what is so disturbing, is the truth that the way many Christians have been handling this reality, particularly as of late, is so middle school; selfish, dramatic, and immature. With moans and groans, grandiose statements and declarations, whines and complaints, we bark at the world. Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Albert Mohler, and Jack Graham, as much as I respect them, seemingly can’t control their licking chops dripping with rhetoric about all that is wrong with the world and how all of Christianity (mainly Christian America) is in the balance. Lions, tigers and, bears, oh my! And then in between barks and rants, they feverishly board up the windows of Christianity for war and the ultimate defense of Christianity’s seat in the world. All so that we can have our way for the sake of our way.
Right now, the hot issue that has ignited much of this posture is homosexuality, but trust me, when that issue drifts back stage, many Evangelicals (and other groups) will certainly find another. What would would they do, where would they find their passion, where would they focus their vision if there wasn’t something to be against and complain about?
Don’t be a hater for me dragging the truth out of the shadows, but, for many Christians in relation to our culture, it has become all about us for the sake of us, no matter how missional and spiritual the lipstick is we are putting on the pig of our selfishness.
At the end of the day, we have been found out, we are more concerned about America serving us than serving America; laws serving us, treatment serving us, politics serving us, values serving us, morality serving us, preferences serving us. All, instead of us just serving people… without condition, expectations, return, pouting, rants, and defense of the institution that is Evangelical Christianity.
I find it interesting that any defensive impulsive Jesus manifested was directed actually at confronting people who withheld Grace and love to the broken, sinning, and condemned within culture. When Jesus turned over the tables in the temple, it was in defense of the exploitation of people for personal gain in the guise of spiritual enrichment. Oh my, that could poke a few holes in modern church-world.
Interestingly enough, we never see Jesus defending His cause in relation to the world, but rather, in relation to religious people who would restrict Him from serving the world through Grace. In fact, what we do see, is Jesus loving, serving, and sacrificing for the world, not standing against it, distanced from it, and barking at it.
We never see Jesus rant, pout, whine, or defensively defend Himself or His cause. In fact, when He was provoked to do so, to write that FB status about how offended He is, how wrong the world is, how He and His peeps were getting the shaft, He remained silent. Later finally declaring… “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And to top it off, His message about Church-world is, “and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” No need to get defensive, I got it covered. Just love people, serve people, give them Grace as I have given you… unconditionally without condition. I’ll take care of the rest.
Besides, it’s not about you, it’s not about “church,” it’s not about being treated fairly, it’s not about your doctrine, it’s not about your standing within culture (or America), it’s not about politics… it’s about Me. And more than that, it’s about giving, not receiving; serving, not being served; lowering yourself, not being lifted up; giving yourself away, not insisting on your way.
Christian, get off your high horse and start loving people, serving people, and standing with people… period.
If you have to defend Christianity, then defend Christianity by defending the people Jesus defended and died for… sinners, not unlike you. He didn’t die for Churches, doctrine, or a prominent place in culture, He died for people, all people. If you have to get on a soap box, if you have to rant, if you have to be all middle-school dramatic and whine while taking your marbles and going home, do so about injustice, do so about people withholding Grace, do so about people being condemned, marginalized, and labeled.
Christian, it’s not about you. Christianity, it’s not about you. Franklin Graham, Francis Chan, David Platt, Chris Kratzer, it’s not about you. Doctrine, right and wrong, in and out, fair or unfair, it’s not about you. Evangelicalism in America, it’s not about you. It’s about Jesus.
Let Grace do what it does (and can only do), which is everything that matters; change, inspire, correct, heal, save, draw, prompt, protect, and prosper. Trust it over institution, trust if over doctrine, trust it over fairness, trust it over defense, trust it over self. Just love, and let Grace do the rest. For Grace is a person, and that person is Jesus.
Stop your whining, easily offended, feather-ruffled, self-righteous vomits. Christianity is not slipping into the abyss of culture, it is actually being pruned by the Father of all that would be about everything but Him. Him, who is Grace… pure Grace.
It’s an interesting thought, that while Evangelicals (and other Christian groups) so want to prune, correct and change the world to be and think like them, it is God who is pruning, correcting, and desiring to change them to be and think like Him.
Excellent post, Chris. A mutual friend shared your post with me, and I really enjoyed it.
I think you are right on target with what you say here that only grace can do what all the morality teachers are trying to accomplish.
I am sharing this post on FB and Twitter and subscribing to your blog.
Jeremy, thanks so much! So great to connect with you. Be sure and check out my latest post “Is Evangelical Christianity the Wizard Behind the Curtain of America’s Moral and Spiritual Decline?” Love to hear your thoughts on that one! Thanks so much for your encouragement and support!