Why Love Is Better than ‘Forced Faith’
Christians, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
This is the burden of my heart.
Christians are forever complaining about the increasing secularization of America. To listen to them this year one would think the “old days”—say, some 50 years back—were the golden time of perennial revival.
The only problem is, I lived through those days of the ’50s. I can tell you the preachers were constantly railing against the decline in religion, the weakening of the churches, the surrendering to the world.
No Golden Age of Faith
There has never been a golden age of faith in this country or any other (that I’ve heard, anyway).
Instituting Laws Can’t ‘Christianize’ or Force Faith
Don’t be overly impressed—or too depressed—by statistics and percentages showing the swings of church attendance, the number of Christians in Congress, and such.
The greatest mistake of the past generations of Christians in this country was trying to Christianize the culture without evangelizing the people.
We put prayer in the schools, made the church the social life of the community, instituted blue laws so that no liquor could be sold on Sundays, and basically shut down secular life on the Lord’s Day. We protected the morality of the cities and towns.
The citizens were no more Christian than previously, but we were making them behave like it.
It is indeed true that we managed to keep drugs out of our communities, kept a lot of bad movies from being aired in our small Bible-belt towns, and relegated bad sin into hiding.
But we were forcing Christian behavior on a world of lost people.
Let’s Not Be Hypocrites
Here’s what that kind of force results in:
-People doing good works without knowing why.
-People not doing bad works and resenting the Christians for it.
-Christians encouraging hypocrisy and even demanding the behavior whether the individual believed in it or not
Then, when the community—Scripture calls it “the world”—began to throw off the shackles of imposed Christianity (the Sunday laws, the prayer in schools, etc.) the churches went into overdrive. Churchgoers began bemoaning the increased secularization and unbelief of our society.
No More ‘Worldly’ Than We’ve Ever Been
People aren’t more ‘worldly’ than we’ve ever been, we’re just living up to what we believe, that’s all. We are living our unbelief.
Listen to God’s people: “We need prayer back in the schools. We didn’t have all these shootings back then.”
When, one wonders, will God’s people stop this ungodly business of imposing our standards on the community, then wailing to high heaven when the community rejects them?
When will we start believing Romans 11:6. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
It’s time the people of God started doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way and quit trying to go Him one better. We tried to force Christian behavior from a lost community and they rejected it.
Now, let’s tell them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Earn the Right to Be Heard by Loving Others
We start by earning the right to be heard by others by loving them. We live the Christ-life before them, show ourselves to be people of compassion and faith, and live a consistent life of integrity.
Then, when we start sharing the good news, some will listen. Not all will, of course. We were never promised that.
You are a chosen generation. A royal priesthood. A holy nation. His own special people. That you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light… (I Peter 2:9)
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Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.