Learn To Embrace The World
I grew up fundamentalist Baptist, which practically meant that pretty much everything in life that was fun for humans was forbidden to us.
When I was a sophomore in high school I went to a party and someone broke out an Air Supply Greatest Hits album and we slow danced to it.
The next day, all hell broke loose when the news got out that there was dancing at the party. I was informed by my then-girlfriend that her parents were forcing her to break up with me because we danced together.
I know, it sounds ridiculous. But the way we practiced faith in the religious tribes of my youth was grounded in fear and a cynical view of a world that was inherently bad, and tilted against us.
Sadly, I see so much of that same kind of fear and cynicism permeating Christian culture today. Christian fundamentalism is alive and well even though it dresses and acts a bit differently then it did when I was young.
The new Christian fundamentalists might dance, drink a little beer, watch R-rated movies and listen to hip-hop on occasion, but they are still fearful, angry and cynical about the world around them.
Far too many Christians still believe that the world is inherently bad. They think that the world is out to get them, and they fear the "other," which leads to them to avoid contact with people who are not like them.
And so, rather than being a "city on a hill" that draws people to light and life, many Christians pull back from the world and draw their shades out of fear. In so doing, they effectively hide their light and extinguish their joy, which can quickly lead to anger and resentment.
Walter Brueggeman once wrote:
Do not let your commitment to [the Christian life], your zeal for clear vision, your resolve to be a disciple, do not let it be eroded by cynicism or despair...As Christians, we have a duty to let our light shine... to show the world around us that there are joy and abundant life to be had when you choose to follow Jesus. We need to demonstrate for the Christian, there are far more things to be for than there are to be against.
May you embrace the world around you without fear, without cynicism and with great hope and love. May you come to intimately know the God who is in, among and through all things, and who is tilted toward you in Divine love and mercy.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.