As I have watched the Olympic games, I have been moved by the sense of national pride that everyone feels for our athletes. As a Christian, I fear that America is not proud of Christians anymore. According to the most recent Gallop pole, 75% of all American identify themselves as Christians, down from 80% eight years ago. Another Gallop pole shows that the satisfaction of Americans with organized religion has declined from 69% in 2002 to 53% in 2015. Christians can acknowledge the sins of the past without being ashamed to be called a Christian.
I see a couple of evidences that America is ashamed of Christians. Christians almost apologize to their friends for being one: “I am a Christian but not one of ‘those’ you have met.” Christians are not open and outspoken about their faith any longer. I recently heard a Pete Holmes podcast interview of Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers said that the ministry of Young Life had a big influence on his life. He grew up going to youth group. He described Young Life as a “Christian based organization that does not really act like one. They present the Gospel in a loving, nonthreatening, interesting way where it is all about loving people and hanging out with people.” While Rodgers gives mixed signals about his personal faith, his comments exemplified how that many Christians feel the need for an explanation. The average Christian may feel like saying: “I am a Christian but I don’t act like one. I actually care about all people, am interesting to talk to, not a know it all, and fun to hang out with.”
At work, at school, or in the public square, to be a Christian is trending toward being unAmerican. To be an American today means that you love inclusivism to the point that your personal identity is lost for the inclusion of anyone unlike you. Much of America has soundly rejected any narrow notion of interpreting life. But to be a Christian means that you look at the world through the revelation of Jesus Christ which is narrow. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. America has rejected any narrow interpretation narrowly, claiming all opinions are created equal and condemning narrow ideas.
While a Christian is narrow in defining truth, a Christian is broad in distributing love and taught to love our neighbor as a friend. Christians should embody love and acceptance of everyone just as Jesus, who was a friend of sinners. We were also taught that to tell the ones we love the truth was one of the most loving things a Christian could do. The truth is never hate. Rodgers called the biblical doctrine of hell as presenting the “bully god.” Rodgers believed that a loving God can have no wrath. The Bible presents a different picture. Love and wrath actually compliment one another in terms of vindication, justice, and valuing of that which is loved. Ironically, if God were to force everyone to go to heaven and worship Him then He would be a bully. Forced love is not love. Hell does not mean that God is a bully, it means just the opposite.
Many Christians are embarrassed to be associated with the realities of the Christian movement in previous generations. Hollywood, the media, and higher education commonly present the narrative vilifying Christianity while sometimes all that has to be done is to tell history. These previous realities include hypocrisy, racism, injustice, Colonialism, sexual exploitation, abuse, and oppression of women. These scandals existed and have been deservedly documented. Christians need to realize that the Christian movement has some sinful, dark elements in it’s past. Christianity also produced and greatly contributed to the Civil Rights movement, the abolitionist movement, modern medicine and health care, orphan care, adoption, recovery ministries, homeless shelters, hospice care, care for the aged, the American Red Cross, and disaster relief. Christians and our nation need not be ashamed of it’s Christian background and heritage. Throughout the entire previous century, the most highly respected and honored public figures were two Baptist preachers: Dr. Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many Christians devote themselves to making the lives of people better. Many Christians leave lucrative careers for service in ministry and work long hours to help our cities for little compensation. Many Christians plant their lives in distressed communities in an effort to revitalize a struggling place. Christians take up the cause of the oppressed, defend the fatherless, fight for justice, and make our communities better. America can be proud to have Bible believing Christians in our nation. In the end, I hope that my nation is proud of me but my greatest hope is to hear my God say: “Well done.”