Recently I have read several articles on social media declaring what Christians should and should not say. They are well meaning articles, rooted in truth and often written by Christians themselves. They are none-the-less concerning. It seems to me that we have shifted from what Christians can and can’t do in the public square to a new level of control that affects language itself – how we express our faith. And it feels downright tyrannical.
The criticism, that has traditionally come from outside the faith, is now coming from within, and contributes to a climate of Christian bashing that is troubling. A FaceBook friend recently posted an article proposing that we start calling evangelical Christians what they are – the American Taliban. Seriously? Are you aware that the most persecuted religion in the world today is Christianity? In the name of the tolerance of others, what Christianity proclaims as truth, and even how it is proclaimed, is… intolerable. As society becomes less and less inclined in judging the actions of others, it seems more and more interested in judging beliefs. Scary.
Here are just a few examples I have recently read:
- Christians, please don’t say you’re “blessed” -- it makes God sound like a fairy who grants some wishes but not others.
- Please stop calling yourself “Pro-Life” -- everyone knows you're simply anti-abortion.
- Stop telling me God is in control! What you really mean is, you’re abdicating your responsibility to address injustices.
Lest I fall into despair, it’s time I remind myself: God IS in control. This at the heart of the Good News. I proclaim Christ crucified. It is a message that is foolishness to the intellectual and a stumbling block to the self-righteous. When all seems lost, I trust that God will make a greater good out of suffering and evil.
"Get behind me, Satan!" Those are the words Jesus had for Peter when Peter forbid the cross. There is no room in our faith for this kind of secular humanism. A world where, God forbid, fallen man is in control and will somehow once-and-for-all put an end to all suffering. This kind of thinking has historically never ended well for anyone.
The world is in desperate need of precisely this message: God is in control. A Supreme Good, a Perfect Love exists, is Real and will--in fact has--ensured that the worst evil will not prevail. This is the joy Christians are called to move through the fallen world with – a joy independent of circumstances. This is true freedom. This kind of living is sure to draw the attention of skeptics. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,” 1 Peter 3:15.
I am blessed. I am Pro-Life. And God is in control.
We live in a time of precious little mystery and relatively no mercy for mistakes; we have no patience for it. From when, where, how and even if life begins and is permitted to grow, to what gender we are, to when, where, and how we die, we demand to be masters of every part of our existence, accepting nothing less than a perfection made in man’s image. We live in unReality.
I understand and agree that Christians need to do more to alleviate suffering--don't we all? To say that proclaiming God is in control is tantamount to sitting back and doing nothing is to deny me my faith. “Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you,” said St. Augustine. It is a “both-and” faith. I choose all. God IS in control and I will do my very best to align my will with His. Should I fall, and brace yourself, my friend, I will…my hope is that you will be there to lift me up, to encourage me to be my best self, to understand that mistakes will be made, and that mercy is always available.
I am a Christian, not because I think I am perfect, or that I can cure all the world’s ills, but precisely because I know I am a sinner and in need of God and the Church’s help. Please resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon and deny me my faith. And for heaven’s sake, Christian, with the same compassion shown for those who are suffering physically, when I fall short of the Christian ideal, please point me back to God.
Stop saying I am blessed, I am Pro-Life or God is in control? Never.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.“ Col 3:13-14