Much has been written in the past few years about the massive cultural shift in the United States today. Headlining that writing is that “Christendom” is dead or dying. The “post-Christian” era that replaces it is characterized by a secular value system, which tells us “all truth is relative and all forms of faith are equal.”
In other words, we are told “what works for you may not work for someone else but as long as it works for you it is fine.”
This is followed by the idea that “you should keep your faith to yourself. It is for you and you alone and you do great harm to others when you share your faith with them because they should find their own faith.”
Most Christians find this “politically correct” secular faith intellectually dishonest. More than that, we find it inherently false, which makes us “intolerant” because we don’t buy into the narrative secularists propagate.
This new value system espouses tolerance as its highest value and intolerance as its only sin — unless tolerance has anything to do with the old value system, for which the new value system is completely intolerant. The Christian faith is rejected as narrow-minded, judgmental and “intolerant.”
Of course, one cannot sum up the situation adequately in two paragraphs, and my attempt to do so falls woefully short. However, the situation I describe is quite real.
How does one follow Christ in a society more and more hostile toward the faith passed down? Before that question can be answered, one must first understand the following:
The Post-Christian era may be new to us, but does not surprise Jesus. His Church has passed through cultural shifts before and will again. One thing Jesus promised was persecution for those who follow him. Worldwide. this faith is still the fastest-spreading, despite opposition and persecution. The world is a better place because Jesus has impacted the lives of billions of people on this planet. He is as active today as he ever was in Christendom.
The message and the mission haven’t changed even if the world has. We are a sent people and our call is to “make disciples.” That said, the cultural change demands that our methods evolve.
Churches no longer have the luxury of competing against one another. Perhaps we got away with it when the culture was friendlier to us. We could afford to give and receive a few lateral shots years ago, but today the shots are coming more regularly from the outside. They are well-aimed and tremendously destructive. Any damage we do to one another is magnified and only serves to weaken us and wound those that Scripture exhorts us to strengthen.
Church people must quit thinking like customers and start thinking like co-laborers. A customer complains when things aren’t to his/her liking. A customer takes his business elsewhere when he doesn’t get what he wants. A customer’s primary concern is “me.” A co-laborer always says, “what can I do to help?”
Finally, we need to rediscover the core of our common teaching. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
The Rev. Jim Snyder is pastor of Blue Mountain Community Church. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by email at email@example.com.