By Brent Buttler –
Christianity’s ongoing battle with atheism and secularism is not only misguided, but also not what God intended for His church.
I recently heard a story about the evangelist Billy Graham. What piqued my interest was how almost overnight he transitioned from relative unknown to household name. One day in 1949 he showed up to the tent where he was holding a series of meetings and discovered a gaggle of news reporters who were eagerly writing down everything he said. When he inquired as to what caused all this interest, he discovered that he had caught the eye of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, and the rest, as we say, is history. Mr. Hearst never divulged the reason for his interest in Graham, but the historian who was telling the story stated that it had a lot to do with current world events, namely the rise of communism as a world power.
You see, the Soviet Union had successfully test fired a nuclear bomb, and Mao Zedong had recently taken over China. Communism now posed a real threat to the American way of life, or at least that is how many perceived it. Atheism being one of the main tenets of Communism, a key way to fight against it was a revival of religion in the United States. Hearst most likely saw in Graham a person who could spearhead such a revival. This revival that Graham participated in came about in a large part as a means to counteract the perceived encroachment of atheistic communism. Religion (i.e. the Judeo-Christian belief system) was essentially a weapon meant to ward off those who would seek to undermine American ideals.
The popularity of “this Christianity as a weapon” concept has in a large part caused the downfall of true Biblical Christianity because it has made the religion popular again on a grand scale. Christianity was never meant to be popular. The Roman emperor Constantine’s supposed conversion did more damage than all the persecution up to that point because by making Christianity popular it brought in a sense of entitlement. This sense of entitlement causes adherents to the religion to do whatever it takes to preserve their popularity, including countless atrocities committed in the name of God, but more subtly it causes Christians to be on the continual lookout for battles to fight as a means of promoting the Christian brand.
One can hardly escape hearing about some ideological battle that Christians are fighting: creation vs. evolution, the “War on Christmas”, abortion, gay marriage, the list goes on and on, all the while neglecting Jesus’ words and example to the contrary. A prime example is His declaration to “be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” That’s right, Jesus said that He has overcome the world, meaning that we don’t have to, so why do we insist on trying to accomplish such a feat?
When Jesus was on the earth, His focus was on relieving people from religious oppression, not secular oppression, so why do His professed followers focus so much on the secular aspect? The simple answer is that it is easier to look out than to look within. Personal attacks are much easier to accomplish than personal growth because growth requires sacrifice, and sacrifice is uncomfortable. Despite the fact that Jesus sacrificed not only His comfort, but also His very life, we would rather give up as little as possible and attack those who threaten our comfortable way of life.
You can probably see where I’m going here. For multiple reasons, the professed followers of Christ have decided to go against His teachings and as a result are trying to compensate for the church’s shortcomings by attacking those outside of the church; the very ones Jesus told us we should be trying to reach.
Now is high time for Christians to stop fighting the bad fight of unbelief and start fighting the good fight of faith, and see what wonders God will work in our lives and in the lives of others.
This article originally appeared at Brent Buttler’s blog, Educational Litter, and is reposted with permission.