(How to Take the Long View in Times of Cultural Upheaval)
You already know this, but it isn’t easy to publicly identify as a Christian anymore. Be it at your school, your job, or in your social media community, you are likely to get some hate if you dare to bring Jesus with you. It may come in the form of the silent treatment or possibly as outright ridicule, but your witness will probably not be met with applause.
This is because a cultural shift has taken place. Attitudes about Christianity have gradually morphed over the years from total acceptance (remember “God bless America” t-shirts after 9/11?) to loss of interest, to skepticism, to disdain, to hostility.
No doubt, there are a variety of factors contributing to this shift – scandalized Christian leaders, unthinkable tragedies and loss of life, an unprecedented number of natural disasters, and the usual Christian hypocrisy that observers consider such a turn-off. All of these things have converged into a perfect storm of philosophical chaos, causing many people to re-think their position on God. “If God is real,” they reason, “then what’s up with all this #@!%?”
And the truth is they aren’t the only ones asking this question. Many honest believers find themselves scratching their heads in disbelief at what is taking place in our world. We were shocked at first, but now we’re starting to go numb.
At this point it might be helpful to remember that this isn’t the first time in history that God and faith have gone out of style. We’ve gone through this cycle before. People in previous eras also dis-engaged from matters of faith only to re-engage later.
Some three thousand years ago David described a cultural landscape that was pretty bleak as far as faith and worship were concerned. People weren’t into it. Here’s what the society looked like:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one (Psalm 14:1-3)
Those were pretty tough times, huh? But in many ways the scene is eerily familiar. Today, atheism – both practical and actual – has made a comeback. Ethics and morality are completely up for grabs. Church participation is on the decline. Some commentators have even gone as far as to declare our times as “post-Christian.”
Whether that is true or not, thankfully God’s love for humanity is bigger than our ambivalence about Him. His attributes have never risen or fallen with the trends of society. He and his gospel remain constant amid all the change.
The truth is we all got lost in a garden and needed a Savior to come and find us. He did that two thousand years ago by dying on a cross, thereby making atonement for our offenses. He stands ready to forgive and restore anyone who will receive him, but he comes by invitation only – not by force or coercion. Those who trust him are called to follow him and to be faithful “in season and out of season” – whether it’s trending or not.
These are rough days to be sure, but may God give us the grace to stay the course.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.