Interesting days are ahead for the christian in America. The days when there was at least an uneasy truce between biblical faith and America’s secular culture are fast disappearing. No I don’t think they will be dragging christians into the streets to be stoned any time too soon, at least I hope not. But the days in which christians will face more vivid and consequential choices regarding their stance on matters of faith are upon us in America, and I frankly am wondering how we will handle it.
Of course, those days (the days of standing strong for matters of faith) have always been upon us, since we were supposed to be salt and light…. right? But who needed salt and light here… we were THE United States! We have been able to blissfully co-mingle our faith, patriotism, and nationalistic pride in ways that probably make believers in other parts of the world a little confused and curious. Our forefathers were pantheons of faith and virtue, so move over Moses and Abraham and make a little room for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Or so you would think to hear many American christians reflect on our national heritage. After all, we are the land of the free and home of the brave, founded by a manifest destiny and “In God We Trust.”
This heritage, even if somewhat embellished beyond full veracity led christians in the US to feel entitled. We don’t have to operate as a sub-culture like christianity in China or well, most anywhere else in the world. The shift in America to a more overt secularism may actually have some unintended good effects in the Church. Perhaps it is time to take the salt and light obligation a little more seriously.
I realize this is an unsettling subject. The truth is that christianity in America has become very comfortable, even coddled by the faith friendly heritage of the nation. It was nice to think the masses had our backs on a few key issues. I think that was mostly an illusion, but still a pleasant one. It kept us from having to struggle for a place in the culture with distinctive spirituality. We have been able to carve out a place in the culture with business acumen and promotion instead. “Join us we are winsome, and popular and successful!” America is the only place the Church makes such an appeal. In most countries where this has not been the case I find a much hardier form of faith generally. Christians who pray by necessity for survival tend to have a more vibrant prayer life than christians who spend their prayer life requesting nicer things and healthier bodies. How does, ‘Join us, we are subversive and counter-culture, yet you will find life everlasting’ sound as a new tag line?
So now with our fairy tale completely shattered perhaps we will actually get around to being salt and light to an America that really needs it. Or, perhaps we will crawl deeper into the bed with covers pulled over our heads and wait for this wave of secularism to pass by. Good luck with that, I am afraid George and Thomas are otherwise occupied.
The truth shall set you free