Have any of you noticed how incredibly uncool it is to be a Christian these days? Of course you have. We are constantly reminded of this by our modern “enlightened” culture. Lately, it seems that it’s become increasingly “cool” for otherwise uncool Christians to point their fingers at other Christians for their uncoolness. I see it quite often on my news feed from a certain unnamed website, as those more enlightened Christians continually throw their fellow Christians under the bus. I was reminded again of this growing hysteria while reading a newspaper clipping at my parents’ house over the weekend in which a pastor apologized for his sins against a certain group of people by lumping in all of the Church with himself in his confession. Where we were once “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” it now seems we are very ashamed… and proud of it! “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” except from our fellow church-goers.
This Christian shame is just a part of a growing shame industry. We’ve all heard of “white guilt,” since it’s not fair to others that some of us are born with a skin color (or lack of) that gives us advantages. We therefore must hate ourselves for how we are created. Now we have “Church guilt,” where we hate ourselves for who we belong to. First we spit on God’s image and then we spit on His bride. It is cool to hate the Church. Yet, the more cool it is to hate the Church in the eyes of the world, the more cool it really is to be the Church. We all remember the mentality of junior high and high school, where to be cool you did your best to be like the other cool kids. As we grow older, it becomes more apparent that our greatest respect and admiration comes for those who stand apart from the crowd. The imitators offer nothing truly remarkable. It is only those who go against the tide who make any impact. Many people today are under the delusion that to go against the tide is to go with it. That sounds ridiculous and self-contradictory, and it is. The “Christian rebel” who trashes the Church and calls for revolution doesn’t realize that he is being swept up by forces greater than himself. He is becoming one with the world, and is therefore becoming increasingly irrelevant to changing it.
That doesn’t mean that there is no room for counter-cultural voices within the Church. We recognize great figures in our history who made significant changes in the movement, or caused their fellow believers to see things in a different way. What they recognized though, is that the Church is the body of Christ. Jesus gave His life for His Church, so it must be of such importance that it is worth dying for. To be like Christ is to love the Church with your whole life. The great voices of Church history were motivated by a desire to strengthen the Church and restore it to its original purpose, to be the means to reach a dying world with the Gospel of the Kingdom. All I see in these contemporary voices is a desire to become one with the world and join them in their dying quests. Yes, we have our problems, and each of us individually are wretched sinners. Still, we are loved by our God who gives us a grace that sees beyond our many failings and manages to somehow use us to build His Kingdom. To be like Christ is to exhibit grace, yet these “enlightened” believers offer no grace to the less enlightened.
Christianity is counter-cultural, as it always has been. True Christianity has always stood in sharp contrast to its mainstream representation. As we see its influence in American politics and government fade, genuine Christianity will emerge. As it stands, the Christian Church remains against the tide. There are fractions that have been swept away and will continue to be swept away, but the true Church will remain. These times can be a bit frightening, but it is also quite exciting to see what God will do through His Church. As for the sell-outs, I will not condemn them, but I am concerned for them. I hope that they know and experience the grace of God, and that they would learn to reflect that grace to their fellow believers. As for me, when this life is over, I’d rather be the one under the bus than the one who put me there.