This year, since Christmas Day falls on the day that my column is featured, I thought I would do something apropos. A chief complaint many people have, both Christian and non-Christian, is the crass materialism attached to the celebration of the birth of the Savior. Indeed, the significance of the Christ child, the man he became, and the work he did becomes obscured (to say the very least) in the face of the attendant trappings and agendas.
When it’s all over, we listen with rapt attention for the financial prognosticators who will tell us if we’ve spent enough during the Christmas season to bolster the economy, or if the earth is going to spin off its axis into the sun.
Unless one has been residing in a remote cave, or is in deep denial, it should be apparent that the enemies of the Christian faith are on the move. In the public square, we see inordinate deference being accorded Islam (for example), twisted sensibilities, intolerance of observant Christians and attempts to marginalize all things Christian or biblical becoming disturbingly commonplace.
On the surface of this is a political agenda that must supplant God in order for the state to serve that function, but there’s far more to it than that. As I’ve mentioned before, I was not raised in the church, and became a Christian in my late 20s. Prior to that, I engaged in a great deal of spiritual seeking, as it were. I read the Quran, as well as Buddhist texts that actually made my brain hurt. Although an unchurched person, I always held a sort of belief that good and evil were far more than free will choices that we make.
It was actually the reference material for evil that I amassed over time, through experience and observation, that pushed me toward the Christian paradigm (if that is indeed what occurred). The intelligence behind that which we commonly describe as “evil” in the world was so evident, I simply could not put it all down to just a lot of people making a lot of bad decisions – with more people making worse decisions as time wore on.
Well, if there were intelligent, powerful forces working to corrupt humanity (and I had determined that there were), then it was a cinch that God existed; not only that, but that He was deeply concerned with human beings, willing and able it interact relationally with us as individuals.
I realize that this is very rudimentary stuff to the mature Christians out there; I’m just illustrating how I personally got from Point A to Point B.
Given the temperament of God as I understood him at that point, the concept of Him sending Christ (his son) to deliver His message, then sacrificing and resurrecting Him in order to reconcile humanity to God made perfect sense – particularly after all of those esoteric Buddhist texts.
Christ’s message (the Gospel) was and remains the most cogent, intelligent, just and effective design for living and for humanity ever conceived. And why not, since it was conceived by God?
It is for this reason that I occasionally find myself amused at those Americans who’ve jumped on the “Christianity sucks” bandwagon. Here, I am not referring to people of other faiths, atheists, nor those individuals who wish to marginalize religion because they favor the leftist secular humanist model. Largely I am referring to those who have adopted their position out of ignorance. For example, there are many Americans who are quite open to spirituality and a god concept, but they favor the ongoing marginalization of Christians because they oppose Christian doctrine. The problem here is that many of these people – perhaps even a majority – have a very limited knowledge of what Christian doctrine is. They think they know, given what they’ve been told by those with the political agenda.
Such people will condemn Christianity as retrograde, yet they will eagerly embrace New Age concepts of spirituality, wholly unmindful that there is nothing really “new” about them. If anything, it is New Age spiritual concepts that are “retro,” inasmuch as they tend to be based in doctrines that predate Christianity, and often reflect the primitive.
These misconceptions vis-à-vis Christianity exist for a reason, of course. As we have seen, in order to enroll people into the belief that Christianity is somehow bad, political operatives must first frame it as something that it is not. We see this in action every day with Christians being characterized as intolerant, paternalistic, oppressive and ignorant. We want to burn homosexuals at the stake, make rape victims raise the resulting offspring, treat women they way Muslims do and impose a de facto theocracy.
An ironic parallel to the obscured message of Christmas: The propagandists have so badly mischaracterized the Christian faith that even its enemies don’t know what it truly is.
Given my aforementioned frame of reference, and the fact that I am a Christian in the first place, I have no doubt whatsoever that all of America’s shortfalls have their origins in the Enemy – the Devil, Satan; whichever handle you prefer. How relatively few Christians (and even fewer pastors) can bemoan the deep and widespread social malaise afflicting this nation and not acknowledge the purpose of the devil behind it is quite puzzling.
While the seeds of corruption were planted long ago in America, the degree of deviance, cruelty and barbarity and we have seen over the last six months alone seem like they should be enough to make a believer out of anybody. We have actually become desensitized to seeing video and photographs of severed human heads. Need I say more?
To Christian Americans, I would say this: The battle lines have been drawn. We’re not going to win the lefties (who are dedicated to the service of evil), social justice Christians or the Liberation Theology crowd. Many Americans will indeed come to the Church, and many will come back to it, but not before conditions in this country have become pretty grim – which may occur sooner that we think.
Salvation aside, I believe that today would be an appropriate time for we as Christians to re-examine what our faith looks like, outside of perfunctory reference to Scripture and the blessings of eternal life. Let us ask the question of what Christ’s teachings represent to us personally (because that’s what the world is going to see), and how we are reflecting that.