As I surf the web this holiday season, I have observed the inevitable tension that has been mounting for the last several years. One group viscerally says that we should say, “Happy Holidays!” while the other group responds angrily and says, “Keep CHRIST in Christmas!” I was reading some articles the other day and one of the common threads among those that do not like saying “Christmas,” was this principle that Christians should not “force” our religion upon others. I began to really consider this for a moment…
I don’t think it’s totally fair to say that Christians, as a whole, are “forcing” a religion upon people. However, I do see a trend in social media that seems to indicate a brand of angry Christianity that wants to “Claim the nation for God.” It puts forth this attitude of battle…targeting non-believers (presumably) as the enemy…and we all know who the enemy is. On the flip-side, I see many non-believers constantly deputizing “science” into their arguments to prove that Christians are throwbacks…carried-over fools from the dark ages…without admitting that true science is not atheistic…nor is it Christian. It is objective observation and reporting and subsequent determination of facts. Let me say this: one cannot be hateful and Christian…and one cannot be anti-anything while claiming to be truly scientific (because one would then be approaching science from a preclusive viewpoint that would nullify objectivity).
In the middle of all of this…I’ve noticed two distinct “Christian” voices in our nation. One is the “conservative/republican/traditional voice that seems to think if we can get a conservative candidate in office then we will see the glory of God descend on our land. This group is seemingly against everything and loves to throw labels around like, “hippie,” “liberal,” socialist,” etc. I frequently run into many of this ilk in my day-to-day conversations. Many of them are truly loving individuals…they are just part of a misguided group…not really thinking outside of the box in which they have become enclosed. They are good at pointing out the wrong things people do…or as we might say, sin, and they usually fail to see the wrong done by the “right” side of the political landscape. The other voice is one that loves to quote the Scriptures about love, charity, and harmony…but totally stay away from areas that are pretty black and white in Scripture regarding sin. They tend to talk about God loving people but fail to mention that His love for us has been expressed through the substitutionary death of His Son. They fail to mention His Son much at all…because they are often afraid of offending non-believers and think it better to simply let the whole conversation about God be somewhat aloof and not at all personal…except to say that God loves everyone.
I am troubled by all of this, because I don’t hear a clarion voice of bold truth in love. Instead what I hear is a rejection of people instead of behaviors. Or I hear a compromising on serious truth in order to appease. In all of this…I am disturbed.
I believe in the Bible. I believe that God created all things. I don’t know how all of that worked, but I believe it. I believe that there are social issues in which we should have a voice. That doesn’t mean that we should yell and scream and foam at the mouth with that voice. I also think that we must be honest with what the Bible says. If we are going to quote the Book, let’s be true to it…not picking and choosing so as to not make things too uncomfortable.
I have friends of all different walks of life. Some of them (maybe you) are atheist, agnostic, New Age, pagan…some of them are immoral and some of them are incarcerated. Some are liberals and some are conservatives. Some struggle with sexual purity. Some are homosexual. Due to this, I struggle with exactly what to say…I struggle with wanting to make sure that people know what the Bible says while also wanting to make sure that I say it in love…and this is one of my great difficulties.
However…the thing that ALL of my friends should be concerned about is my integrity. What I’m referring to is whether or not I’m a person of conviction and whether I am such a person in an attitude of love and compassion. Those of us that hold to the truths of Christianity must be honest with what the Book says. We must teach what it says. Some of it is difficult. ALL of it is challenging…but if you see me backing off of what it says for the sake of placation…how can you respect me?
I am not going to fight with people over the name of holiday. I am not going to argue with people over whether or not Christians should be republican or democrat (actually, I think neither is a good choice). I am not going to fight with anyone. What I am going to do is stick to what the Bible says. I am especially going to do my best to stick to what it says…even when it’s not really comfortable. This doesn’t mean I reject you. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love you or see you as less than me in any way. Those that really know me are full aware that I am not any better than anyone. AT. ALL. What this means is that I believe that the Bible is the Book of divine Truth. I can’t explain it all. I can’t defend it all. But I can tell you what it says about you and what it says about me. It says that we are not what we were intended to be. It says we are essentially no better than reject pottery that failed to form properly and deserved nothing more than to be destroyed. It ALSO says, that while we were totally fallen…total rejects, God still exercised His love toward us and He substituted His perfection for our depravity…so that this broken vessel doesn’t have to be one that is discarded for all of eternity…and neither do you.
I am not ashamed of what the Book says. I am not going to try to make people happy by compromising on what it says…and for those of you that totally disagree with what it says…you should still be appalled by those of us that would not hold it in integrity…as well as you should be appalled by those of us who speak it hatefully. I know that when some are mean-spirited in the name of Christ if offends most people. It should also be offensive when Christians capitulate for the sake of appeasement…when we tickle ears…crowd-please…or try to make everyone happy…because Jesus was not concerned with trying to make you or I happy. His concern has always been to make us alive…and to make us holy.