Jesus Wants To Save Christians
I joined a Facebook group for atheists and agnostics about a month ago. Don't start freaking out, friends. I'm not jumping ship and paddling away.
I joined the group because I need to hear what they have to say. I want to be instructed by their objections to religion, particularly my own.
Most of the posts that are made in the group highlight the many ridiculous, racist, bigoted, hateful things that far too many Christians in America say and do. Not surprisingly, I find myself agreeing with almost every one of those critical posts.
Plus, some of the posts are just super clever and humorous, and I'm slightly irreverent anyway, so they make me smile a bit. But there's a darker side to all of this that can't be ignored.
Statistics have been revealing that more and more people in America are becoming disillusioned with Christianity, giving up on it completely, walking away from their faith... because of what they experience through the poor witness of Christians in our current culture.
And then there is the rapid secularization of emerging generations who have no real foundation of religious upbringing, no real language of Christian faith.
These emerging generations' only exposure to Christianity is largely tainted by the flawed witness of the scores of belligerent Christians in America who conflate religion and politics like it's an Olympic sport.
Forty years ago, Madeline L'Engle had this to say about the state of Christianity in America---a prescient statement that was true then, but even more true all these years later:
Christians have given Christianity a bad name. They have let their lights flicker and grow dim. They have confused piosity with piety, smugness with joy.
I don't know what the way forward is going to look like for those of us who see Christianity differently.
I also don't know exactly what the Church is going to look like after COVID, but I do know that Christianity in America is in desperate need of a revival. Christians need some Jesus now more than ever.
To lift a quote from author Rob Bell, Jesus actually wants to save Christians---and mostly from ourselves.
I do know that there are a lot of people who profess to be Jesus-followers, who have grown weary of a small, narrow, exclusive expression of Christianity.
More and more of us are turning instead to a more expansive approach to our understanding of God's love and mercy, and what that means for the world.
But if we are going to be heard above the loud voices who profess something different, we can't be afraid to speak out about our faith journeys. If we are going to see a revival in Christianity, we need to be willing to move beyond the confines of our faith communities and venture out into the world around us.
And we absolutely cannot be afraid of the skepticism we might face from people who have had a negative view of what it means to be Christian.
We should embrace the opportunity that we have before us to meet that skepticism with the defiant hope that by demonstrating there is a "more excellent way" to be Christian, we might change the narrative.
We need to learn anew what it means to embody the love of God, and the joy of the Resurrection.
May we all find opportunities today and every day to live out our Christian faith in ways that are compelling, winsome, and unafraid. May the revival we seek begin with us.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us now and always. Amen.