I like what Richard Stearns has written over at the Huffington Post. No, I’m not a fan of the Huffington Post, but I believe Stearns has made a real point. The country as a whole has moved from being a Christian nation to a officially a post-Christian nation. This is a good thing since it will allow true Christianity to flourish instead of the cultural, Tim Tebow Christianity that is so prevalent. What I think he means by this is that Christians have focused far too long on window dressings of Christianity instead of true Christianity. Let me quote Stearns:
As this cultural shift has occurred, many Christians have reacted in frustration. We have fought to place the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and Christmas crèches outside town halls. We have sued over public prayers and crosses in state parks. One court recently weighed in on whether cheerleaders at a Texas school should be allowed to post Bible verses on their banners.
While symbols can be important, we have focused perhaps too much on them instead of the underlying reality they reflect. Instead, we need to go back to the basics of living as disciples of Christ, living missionally for Christ and demonstrating the Gospel in tangible ways within our schools, workplaces and communities. While I would be happy to see the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse wall, the fight over symbolic issues is backfiring, alienating people from the truths of the gospel rather than attracting them to it. The kind of Christianity the world responds to is the authentic “love your neighbor” kind. Its appeal can’t be legislated through court battles and neither can courts stop its spread.
The point is that we get all up in arms when some atheists boob gets his collective shorts in a wad all the while ignoring the fact that in our churches, the true gospel of Christ is not being preached at all. Stearns points to one of the symptoms of the problem, the fact that we are not living as good neighbors where we live. I’m pointing directly to the problem: the gospel isn’t being preaching in our pulpits across America.
Far too many pastors will jump into their pulpits and give great, inspiring messages. Just watch tomorrow morning what your pastor does. It will be upbeat, positive, inspiring, and happy. But that is not the gospel. The gospel isn’t upbeat, inspiring or happy-go-lucky. It is harsh, hard, confronting and not much fun to hear.
Why is that?
Because the gospel confronts us with the truth that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We need salvation that come from outside ourselves. Yes, it is positive when we trust in Christ for salvation. But that is not what most are preaching. They are preaching a Christianized version of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The gospel says just the opposite: you have no bootstraps, no power to pull yourself up, in fact, you are so spiritually dead you don’t know that you need to be pulled up.
But alas. Some will point out this is the reason I have a small congregation. True. Pope Bozo Himself, Joel Osteen proves me wrong every Sunday, right? After all, his messages are Christianized versions of the Dr. Phil Show, and he has Jews coming into his congregation saying how inspired they are along with about 45,000 others. And they are inspired. They are not saved, but they are inspired. Remember, if the message won’t confront a Jew, or a Gentile for who they are, then the gospel is missing.
Please, if you go to church tomorrow and hear Mr. Upbeat, without the gospel, please find another church so that you can start living as a true Christian, and not just a cultural Christian, thinking that because you like Tim Tebow, you are a believer. Tim Tebow’s scriptural reference eye shadow does not make us Christians. The gospel does, and that requires true confrontation, with true repentance, and true faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Jesus doesn’t make it possible for us to be saved. He either saves us completely, or we are left in our sins and trespasses offering dung-covered creches as good works. Christ will have none of it and doesn’t really care if we fight to have a creche erected on the courthouse lawn. Doing that has nothing to do with Christianity. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and producing true spiritual fruit is far more important than our freedom to say “Merry Christmas.”
Yes, we are no longer a Christian nation. Hopefully, those of us who believe will step up and live as true Christians, which will go much further than our cultural manipulations.