Recently I heard a congregation singing the old hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to war” and I was struck by the cultural contrast. When was the last time we have seen Christ followers as courageous? Most of our media stereotypes of Christian faith is weak, frail, soft, and “wimpy”. Preachers are portrayed as cartoons. What’s up with that!?
Why is it that in the church people are passive and permissive, allowing themselves to be walked over in ways they would never tolerate anywhere else?
Why is it we somehow think it is noble to not stand up for right, emphasizing being nice, looking good, or not making waves even though to remain silent is to suffer the spirit?
I remember hearing on the radio in New York some years ago as a DJ was signing off for the night he said “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!” How true.
In a day when churches are closing by the dozens every year, and more effort is applied to internal politics and power rather than Christ’s teachings, values and the mission to make a difference in the world can we afford to wimp out and waft away to insignificance? Do we actually enjoy a faithful life that resembles left over spaghetti in the back of the frig?
Perhaps the song reflects a vibrancy, commitment and zeal once known but few are the churches with that kind of spirit today. More is the pity for non-churched seekers do not consider the church as having anything to offer and Christians may be nice but don’t exemplify the Christ like courage the bible portrays nor do many reflect the kind of discipleship they have heard about from the New Testament. Are we irrelevant?
Yet, it is not hard to see how vital is the need for Jesus’ message; Easy to see how people no longer know how to get along, to think, to work, to have values that guide good living, or the comfort of meaning and spirit that makes life better. Great is the need of the world for Christ and his message. And those faith communities that come alive with the message, with activity and spirit, with courage and dynamism are blossoming and growing. For in such lively communities people are finding what they are looking for.
Perhaps we need to re-think what and how we represent the Messiah, the message, the life, and the difference.
What do you think?