I am more than a little heart-sick at the lessening of faith and Christianity in our time and society, America in the 21st Century. We are so privileged in the West that it seems we often don’t know how to be Christians without manufacturing a war on something we enjoy or pretending to be persecuted. It lessens our witness, it lessens our joy and it lessens our faith.
Did you grow up singing the great old ditty I Have Decided to Follow Jesus? I did… and there’s that other verse, though none go with me, still I will follow. But somewhere along the way that refrain has become though none go with me, geez will I tantrum! We tantrum because we don’t get to tell others how to greet people in the holidays, we can’t always force people to listen to our praying in public, and in fact, some of our neighbors aren’t Christians at all! And we haven’t the maturity to deal with it.
When we cry our crocodile tears over Starbucks cups, we lessen our faith. When we deny others their civil liberties, like marriage, we lessen our faith. When we slander our Muslim neighbors for their religion, we lessen our faith. When we manufacture a war on our faith to bolster slipping or apathetic morale and make a political gain, we have lessened our faith and opted for a something completely other than faith.
Christians have begun the slow death of the meaning of Christmas by making it a season of self-centeredness and creating controversy where there should be joy and peace. We welcome the Prince of Peace by being contentious, angry and divisive. How have we so completely lost the message of humility in the birth narrative of our King? How have we so lost the grace with which he responded as he was both welcomed and rejected in his own life? How have we forgotten that Jesus didn’t forge a kingdom or legacy on any blood or suffering but his own?
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Preach it, Peter. I’d like to advocate a season of love this year, when we rid ourselves of all the envy over other people’s headlines, when we rid ourselves of malice toward people who don’t think or live just like us, when we grow up a bit and bring some meaning back to the faith we profess to follow so that our behavior is admirable and points toward the grace of God.
Imagine it with me… we’re taking about a whole season of:
~ Christians simply drinking their coffee and enjoying it,
~ Christians not posting slanderous meme’s and sharing
hateful stuff on social media that slanders and demeans
~ Christians not manufacturing a war on a holiday that
is about to drive our national consumerism into the usual
frenzy of overindulgence and debt, and
~ Christians growing out of their spiritual baby years and
into at least a form of spiritual adolescence in which they
learn to serve the world and their neighbors with the love
and selflessness shown by their Christ.
We can do this! In fact, the very meaning of our Christianity depends on it. Our witness depends on it. Our growth depends on it. And yes… I believe our faith depends on it.