"I need to talk about contemporary Christianity. There's something that concerns me.
We've seen so much abuse of the term "Christian" lately that many of us are now hesitant to be associated with it. We may serve God and be followers of Jesus, but we don't want to be associated with the bigoted right-wing extremists who are known only for their judgemental statements and boycotts.
We believe Christians should be known by their love. (I think John 13:35 says something along those lines.)
We cringe every time we see Pat Robertson on the news. So, we do everything we can not to be identified as one of those Christians. We try to get ouseid the Christian bubble, love others, be open minded and live in freedom. So we drink - but just in moderation, of course. We cuss, but just for humor or effect. We watch movies that our pastor wouldn't, but it's because we're a lot more in touch than he is. We criticize TBN, cheezy Christian music and everything else about the Christian subculture. We hang out in the bars and clubs, originally to be "light in the darkness," but now really just for a good time.
And here we are, without even realizing it, living exactly like the world.
Please hear me, I'm not advocating close-minded, hate-filled Christianity, and I do believe we have freedom in Christ. Moderation is a God-given right. But truly following Jesus is not found in either extreme. After all, Romans 12:2 does say, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world" (TNIV).
So where does this leave us? It's not an issue that can be resolved in this column's 600 words, but it's one that all of us must personally and deliberately answer, because without clarity on how we need to live our lives and impact the world around us, at best we will be inconsequential and at worst, harmful to those around us.
Stewardship is something I've grappled with lately. (Go read Matthew 25.) God has entrusted all of us with gifts, material things, a calling and a realm of influence. The question is, what are we doing with what has been given us?
Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples. How well are we following that challenge in our lives on a daily basis? Are we making the most of the time and opportunities given to us? Or are we worrying about this debate or that opinion, when there's a world dying around us?
We look to one side and see Christianity being mocked in the media because of stupid public statements by leaders who make us all look like idiots.
But so what?
We look to the other side and see a free-will, all-paths-lead-to-heaven kind of Christianity that renders our faith completely ineffective out of fear that we might offend somone who doesn't agree with us.
But, again, so what?
Neither of those need to define us. What other people do is of zero consequence to how we have to live our lives. The decisions we make and the love we show to others are completely up to us. No one else will account for your life but you.
So how are you using it?
Like most of us, I'm tired of being clumped in with the stereotypical, suburban, materialistic Christianity. But we can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I believe that God wants us to think for ourselves and follow the Spirit. If it's scriptural, we've got to deal with it. But if a man came up with it, I give it a healthy dose of skepticism. It's called discernment.
We need to not only embrace grace and freedom, but remember that we're called apart, that what we have in our spirits separates us from the world. We are supposed to be in the world, but not of it. We have a hope and a freedom and a faith that the world is looking for, and they need to see that difference in us. Otherwise, what's the point?
I want to be known for passion, love, and a heart that follows God. I want people to see that about me, first thing. There's something different about my life, and it will also change their. I don't want to blend in.
Our generation is looking for something to fill the void in their lives. We have what they're looking for. We just need to bring the truth with grace and love. But we do need to bring it. We each have a sphere of influence. Now what are you going to do with it?"
-Cameron Strang - Relevant Magazine June/July 2006 - emphasis mine.