“There seems to be something lacking in our churches these days. We have done a great job producing nice Christians, rather than dangerous Christians full of courage, ready to take risks.”
These are the words of my friend Tish Shelton in her fight for the dignity of women in Australia. Tish is a wonderful woman, but she is not “nice.” Her heart has been broken for the plight of women in Australia and she is fearless in leading Christians to stand against the injustice in their own communities. Tish is a dangerous Christian.
We have written on this blog about the need for Christians to speak the truth in love. (See also Truth and Love: It’s Not Your Father’s Pulpit Anymore.) Perhaps we need to be dangerous in our love. How many times in history has love of neighbor, love of family, love of community, love of the stranger, love of the nation, love of the enemy driven the “niceness” out of Christians and replaced it with courage to stand against injustice and fight for truth and justice?
Recently I posted at my Facebook page what the tyrannical California State Legislature is doing to end religious freedom for Christians at private evangelical colleges and universities. The post highlights a piece by Rod Dreher on this issue facing Christians in California, and soon the rest of the country and then the world.
David French, a lawyer and writer who is consciously Christian, has taken up the same issue in a challenge to the church.
This is exactly the time when the Evangelical church needs to lay down a marker, to signal that it will not go quietly. But to do that it needs to do something that it rarely does: ask its members to take a stand. Oh, the church is good at asking them to do things that the world likes, such as volunteering at homeless shelters or digging wells in poor villages overseas. It’s good at helping repair broken homes and broken lives. It’s decent at transmitting the truths of the faith to the next generation. It’s terrible, however, at defending its own essential liberties.
As French points out, the world may tolerate us when we are nice and do “nice things.”
He says that we may be “decent at transmitting the truths of the faith to the next generation.” I might take exception with this. We may be good at catechizing the faith for the next generation – and even this is suspect in my mind – but I don’t believe we are teaching faith as an act of obedience (Luke 9:23). I’m not sure we are transmitting to the next generation the concept of costly faith, costly as the word becoming flesh.
Only dangerous, courageous Christ followers will prevail in the culture
But if Christians speak the truth in love, challenging the assumptions and lifestyles of postmodern culture, we move from being nice to being dangerous.
French calls the church from its passivity and timidity to engage the culture.
If the church surrenders the culture without putting up a true fight — without fully exercising its right and obligation to defend its constitutional freedoms — then it will richly deserve its legal and political fate. A spirit of timidity does not come from God, but timidity grips the church. If we don’t grow bold today, we’ll only have ourselves to blame tomorrow.
We have been born for these times, let us now live for these times.
Go here to read French’s article.
- Darrow Miller