I know it’s hard for many Christians outside the US to comprehend, but believers here have lived for decades under the illusion that we’re in the majority. With the changes in our culture in the last seven years, and particularly in the last seven weeks, we really cannot deny the truth any more: we are in a post-Christian society and are in the minority.
This realization has caused great concern for many who have held out hope that the US would return to the ideals of our founders—that we would again recognize our Creator who, our Constitution tells us, endowed us all with certain unalienable rights. Barring a great movement of God’s Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of our people, we will not see a shift toward the things of God.
Changes once made are rarely rescinded. I don’t see same-sex marriage being disallowed by the Supreme Court or a Constitutional Amendment enacted returning marriage to its historical definition. Even with the Planned Parenthood scandal, it’s improbable that abortion will ever again be outlawed. And schools are already not allowed to teach creationism as one possible means by which the multiverse came into being.
How, then, will children raised on evolutionary theory as if it were fact, come to faith in a Creator God?
Let’s just say, Christians have our work cut out for us.
But shouldn’t that excite us?
I mean, did we think God put us on earth for a vacation before heading off into eternity? Who do we thing Jesus was talking to when He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me”? And who is on the receiving end of the great commission? Aren’t we, believers in Jesus Christ, to be the ones who make disciples?
But in a society of “everyone’s already a Christian,” none of us has to step up boldly and declare our faith.
I was reminded the other day of one of my greatest failures. In sixth grade (I would have been twelve) I attended a school in a rather exclusive part of Santa Barbara, a rather exclusive part of SoCal. Not everyone was rich (we weren’t), but I’m sure a number of my classmates were. Further, I was in a group ear-marked for college. So these kids were bright, hard-working, well-behaved, their parents involved.
I, as a Christian, was trying to figure out what my beliefs had to do with everyday life. The year before I’d made a woeful attempt to be the loving Christian. At that time we lived in an Italian ghetto in downtown Denver. When a new boy came to school and everyone started picking on him, I decided the loving Christian thing was to be nice to him. I hadn’t foreseen two consequences. The new guy took to me like I was his life raft, and my friends started teasing me about him because of it.
In a very un-Christ-like decision, I reversed my original “be nice to him” mode. Surprise, surprise—he didn’t respond so well. Being betrayed was probably harder on him than the original bullying. We ended up at loggerheads which led to fisticuffs. And eventually a trip to the office.
So much for putting into practice Christian principles.
And now I was in California, the exclusive area with well-behaved children. No fighting or cussing or bullying. One day I was riding home on the bus next to one of the sweet girls in my class. She was a pretty girl, too, well liked, and kind, but on that day there was a sadness about her. I don’t remember what it was we were talking about, but I do remember that the conversation opened up so that I could naturally say something about being a Christian or trusting in Jesus, or having faith. And I sat there. Said nothing. Stared out the window. And the moment passed. To say something after that would be forced, awkward.
But, I reasoned, Trudy was probably a Christian already. I mean, she was such a nice girl.
Flash forward another year when we were in junior high—1500 seventh through ninth graders from all over the city, packed into the school. I didn’t have any classes with Trudy, and the first time I saw her on campus I almost didn’t recognize her. She’d made it big with the “in crowd” known for . . . a lack of virtue. I don’t know that we ever spoke again.
But how many times I wished I could go back on that bus and tell Trudy about Jesus Christ who wanted to rescue her from the dominion of darkness, who wanted to be her Redeemer and Friend.
All that to say, the illusion of a Christian world can make believers complacent. It’s a little uncomfortable to talk to people about such a personal thing as their belief in God, and as long as we think (or rationalize), as I did, that they’re probably already Christians, we won’t step out in faith and be the ambassadors God wants us to be. After all, you don’t need to be an ambassador among your own citizens.
Today the illusion is gone. Our neighbors and co-workers look at the world very differently than we do. They believe truth is relative; that humankind evolved from a primordial soup; that there is no god or if he does exist, he’s disinterested or unknowable or weak; that the Bible is full of myth and not authoritative but outdated; that humans have the ultimate say about their own body and their own gender and their own sexuality and whatever else they believe they can or want to control; that “sin” is passe; that humankind is good.
The thing is, our task today to bring the gospel to this foreign culture with their opposing worldview, is not so different from what the apostles faced as they went about making disciples in the first century.
May we step out in faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, as they did, to move the mountain of unbelief that oppresses our neighbors and associates. May we seize the opportunity to be ambassadors for Christ in the non-Christian world in which we live.