I’M FOR THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND HATE — a popular bumper sticker that speaks a volume of truth.
Every once in a while, it becomes necessary to refocus our sight. Who are we as Christians; what do we stand for; and what are we supposed to be doing? This has become increasingly hard to do and increasingly necessary in a society where Christians have become associated with causes that run far afield of what Jesus championed and the early church adopted. So much so, that before we can talk about what a Christian is, it becomes necessary to point out what a Christian is not, because the presuppositions formed by our culture will color everything else you try to say and do.
In effect, Christians have been branded by our culture, and in order to talk with Christians or non-Christians about what it means to follow Christ, it now becomes necessary to say, “It’s not that, it’s this.” It’s a lot like Christ’s statement, repeated often in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard it said…, but I say to you …”.
You have heard it said that a Christian is against abortion, anti-LGBTQ, in favor of the right to bear arms, and for their own religious freedom, but I say to you a Christian is a follower of Jesus and how His gospel relates to the deep, unresolved needs of any generation for love, meaning, community, peace, justice, and religious freedom in the public square for all religions and none. Big difference.
This is the advantage that Boomers have in regards to history. We can go back to our formative years during the Jesus Movement when our Christian faith was carved out of a fresh look at the New Testament church, and a freedom to forge new paths.
This is what Boomers can offer Millennials — a long enough view back to where following Christ was not encumbered, as it is now, by false assumptions. To be sure we had our own misconceptions to fight (mostly legalism) — any generation does — but ours were not so well-known so we were free to make a new statement. This is why we talk now about setting out on a new path into a new frontier, and these are the things we want to talk about and foster whenever we can: love, meaning, community, peace, justice, and religious freedom for all religions and none. And to this list, I would add forgiveness and mercy, and, of course, grace and grace turned outward in an environment where all are welcome, for that is what we represent, the gospel of welcome.
I’m going to list these characteristics one more time here and ask you to get very familiar with them. Think of this list as a sort of litmus test with which to identify what is going on in the world in the name of Christianity. Not for the purpose of casting judgment, but for the purpose of saying, “Is it this, or is it that?”
We are basically re-branding Christianity.
The litmus test for true Christianity. Does it represent:
religious freedom in the public square for all religions and none?
grace turned outward?
the gospel of welcome?