There is a palpable and open hostility towards Christianity and God’s Word in our society today. There is an obvious effort to ridicule, shame and marginalize Christ followers. We are front row witnesses to an organized campaign to scrub any mention or recognition of God from anything in the public arena.
Why? What makes these beliefs and practices so unpopular with so many of our contemporaries? Some would blame Christians. The self-righteous, judgmental Christians who spend too much of their precious time ramming their lifestyle and belief system down the throats of all they come in contact with. At least to some extent, I think we must plead guilty to that charge. But to be honest, that along with “hypocrites in the church” are two of the most overused and overblown excuses used for rejecting the message of God.
So what is the real reason for the increasingly hostile rejection of biblical morality and standards?
The Bible, among other things, is a rule book. Its message is one of power and authority. It is a book that extols the virtues of doing what is right and warns of the perils of doing wrong. Infused within the DNA of scripture is the concept of accountability. God wouldn’t go to the trouble of explaining righteous living without the expectation of obedience. God didn’t use Moses to communicate the “Ten Suggestions.” God doesn’t request… God commands and those commands demand a response.
It is tough enough for the committed Christian to live their life in accordance with God’s word. Spiritual warfare is waged in their hearts and minds perpetually. However, most believers understand the expectation of obedience and the dynamic of accountability.
Increasingly, when the unbeliever is confronted with the words of God and the inherent message of accountability, it makes them highly uncomfortable and sometimes, downright hostile. As some sort of defense mechanism, they seem to feel that the source of that message must be shouted down, stifled, silenced and discredited.
It hasn’t always been this way. Through much of our country’s history, most of our populace held the Holy Scripture in high esteem and its influence knew few boundaries, even within institutions outside of the church. Many of our laws were derived from biblical principles and commandments. Our public schools allowed prayer and bible reading within their walls. Courthouses displayed the Ten Commandments. Every U.S. president has freely and publicly invoked the name of the Almighty. But that respect for and influence of scripture has been greatly eroded… maybe irreparably so.
As our culture has moved further and further away from the moral compass of scripture and Christian teaching, the national attitude toward biblical morality has evolved from one of reverence to respect to indifference to anger and open hostility. As a society, we have become very protective of our chosen lifestyles, no matter how immoral, unrestricted, undisciplined and harmful they may be. And when we are confronted with instruction that runs counter to the desires of our flesh, we feel compelled to respond. We sense the divine accountability and we rebel against this authority by lashing out at it.
Confronted with this moral climate, what is the Christian to do? What is the Christian to say? We know from experience that the moment we open our mouth to comment, we are shouted down with accusations that we are judgmental and that we spew hate. These criticisms can sting and many will respond by slinking away and will adopt the philosophy that dictates we not talk publicly about religion and politics. And as they have convinced us that silence is the prescribed behavior… they do the opposite. They march, they protest, they shout… for their cause. Meanwhile… we sit silently… not wanting to offend. How is that working for us? Has that strategy slowed our collective march toward moral bankruptcy?
One possible answer is found in God’s word. The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4, suggests the powerful combination of truth and love. If we can grasp the truth and deliver that message of truth in a genuine spirit of love, we will fulfill a powerful obligation as a child of God. If we truly proceed in a spirit of true love, we will never use truth as a hammer to injure but as a light to illuminate a path cloaked in darkness.
Too often, we employ the rules of engagement established by those whom we consider the “enemy.” We sling mud, we call names and we exhibit a personal disdain for them and their position. We seem to forget that they are not the enemy. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our struggles are not with flesh and blood (people) but with principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. The tactics to be employed should be designed to reach them with the truth, not to simply prove that we are right and they are wrong.
Engagement fueled by hostility and anger is not the correct strategy but neither is silence. Stand up! Speak up! The powerful message of hope, forgiveness and redemption is not a message designed to be suppressed but a message to be proclaimed from the mountain tops, not in arrogance, not with hypocrisy, not for selfish reasons, but proclaimed with passion and conviction… in truth with love.