Rallying kids to bring their Bibles to school, Facebook status pictures declaring “I’m a Christian,” Sharpie pens used to write “I am unashamed” on a hand or two. Really, this is the best idea we can come up with to present Jesus to our planet?
I know, you feel attacked as a “conservative” Christian, believing there is a growing “war” against your flavor of faith. You fear you aren’t getting your “way” in American culture, and in your mind, it’s all going to straight to hell… homosexuality, gun control, religious discrimination, loss of “family” values, and on and on. Shoot, old episodes of “Leave it Beaver” are even hard to find these days. Stop the madness.
And then, your freedoms. As if somehow they are under vicious attack as well. Last time I checked, you can still pray, worship, study, and do everything Jesus exampled. No, not where separation of Church and State applies. It’s been that way for how long now? But evidently, that’s not good enough as you conclude your leverage and influence is slipping. Truth be told, the rules have long been bent on the side of extending Christian favor in American society. That things are perhaps leveling a bit is truly nothing to get your panties in a wad. In fact, it presents great opportunity, maybe not for your religiosity, but for Jesus. Besides, worst case scenario, don’t we believe in the God who holds all the stars in His hands? What posture of fear or angst could we ever take if we were truly “unashamed?”
Do you really want to represent Jesus like that spoiled kid in the sandbox who always has to get his way, whines when he doesn’t, and pushes people around? Do you think we Christians getting together and standing sideways against the world as we declare our “unashamed” Christian allegiance, is making any impact at all? Congratulations, you are “a Christian.” We get it. Your Facebook status, twitter tags, t-shirts, and body art declare it. Applause, applause, you got your kids to carry a Bible to school. Wow, you are so faithful and uber-devoted. Your “Braveheart” battle field defense of team-Christian has even Mel Gibson taking notes.
Though it may look and feel all Jesus-serving to you with high-fives and spiritual pats on the bottom from your church-peeps, the rest of us aren’t fooled at all. Nope, we’re actually repulsed. And quite honestly, we are ashamed, not of the Gospel, but of your religious, elitist, pretentious, “I am… unashamed, a Christian…look at my Bible… blah, blah, blah…” stand against the world and all that you deem wrong, offensive, or unfair. Your version of Jesus and His Gospel has become so “spit it out of my mouth” worthy. I’m struggling for words right now to describe the taste on my tongue, so how does “crap” sound to you? Defensive, self-serving, arrogant, religious.
If you really were “unashamed” of the Gospel…
Your outward obedience and spiritual show would be flat out nothing to you, and the spotlighting of Jesus’s obedience, the complete sufficiency of His Grace, and the beauty of His perfect love would be everything.
You’d be licking your chops for opportunities to declare to the world, “we are unashamed of you.” Writing it on the hearts of every kind of person of every kind of lifestyle, skin color, creed, status, morality, nationality, or background. Not resting until all are aware, and never forget the Father’s true heart for them.
You’d care less if the world is accommodating your Christian agenda and values, giving them fair play and perpetuation. Simply serving people, unconditionally without conditions would be opportunity overflowing.
You wouldn’t be so cocked and loaded to defend Christianity, rallying the troops to demonstrate your resolve. To simply be Jesus to your neighbor, defending the poor, the marginalized, and the ones so confidently deemed to be sinning. That would be your cross.
You’d be far less interested in appearances, people knowing you are a Christian and a devoted player on the team. That people would see Jesus, His ardent delight in them that compels His eternal smile and forever embrace. That would be heaven to you.
Things like “bring a Bible to school” would be so less attractive to you, and show itself to be ridiculously self serving and lame, while washing the feet of those you least like and who are least like you would become so compelling.
If you really were “unashamed” of the Gospel…
You’d be brave with Grace, believing it all the way, daring to live it… all the way.
You’d be reading the world, the Scriptures, and the issues of our day through the lens of Jesus.
Jesus who is Grace, and Grace which is the Gospel.
But perhaps there in lies the crux of the matter… maybe it’s more like you are “unashamed” of club-Christianity, but Grace is another story.
Grace disturbs you, it shakes your foundations, it levels the playing field, and renders all your religious posturing and precepts as gonging, clanging cymbals… out of beat. A Grace that strips all the religious playing cards out of your hands and in return gives you plowshares. But you want to point fingers, not plow. You want to proclaim your faithfulness, not plow. You want to protect your agenda, not plow. You want to promote your ideology, not plow. You want to perpetuate your brand, your team, your institution, not plow. And then you wonder why so many don’t respond to your religious, Christian whistle blows, follow your cadence, or stay committed to marching in your band.
The more you religiously declare “I am unashamed” the more you in fact show yourself to be “ashamed,” not of your religious allegiance, but of a Grace that renders your allegiance as filthy rags, and admonishes you to serve rather than be served, love rather than label, and accept rather than condemn.
You see the house of cards your conservatism has built falling to the ground, one scriptural contextualization, one church statistic, one condemning, bible thumping Christian at a time. And so your best idea is to dig your religious heels in the ground, do something that looks and feels spiritual to show the world, you still mean business, and your God isn’t dead. All while, refusing the cure… Grace.
At best, your freedom to be religious has been challenged here and there, but not your freedom to be Jesus, if it’s Jesus you are truly “unashamed”… to be.