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Time for a Change in the Christian Message?

Christianity bears a cost. Its painful. Its uncomfortable. Its hard. And its awesome at the same time.

Apparently, this CNN journalist thinks it's time we Evangelical Christians rethink our message.

The reason why? Obama was re-elected.

(By the way: What is it with the press and this president? I have never seen journalism this devoted to actually not being journalists in my life.)

The CNN author's reasons?

"In three states voters approved same-sex marriage; anti-abortion candidates were defeated in red states; and Obama, whose opponent had the support of Billy Graham, won a second term."

Even more reason: "the fastest growing religious group in America is people who are not affiliated with any organized religion, according to a recent Pew survey."

The solution presented in his article? Change the message. Cooperate with the shifting sands of culture's foundations. Appease the Agnostic with a more palatable message and far less absolutes.

After all, he writes: "Playing hip music and wearing jeans when you preach may not be enough to catch a new generation of Americans." To which I say (tongue in cheek) "Whatever will we do?!?!"

Perhaps it's time we change our stance. Abortions on demand! Marry whomever, however, whenever you want. Christ is only one of the paths to heaven, we aren't exclusive! After all, we have churches to protect and financial responsibilities to meet. We have a reputation to uphold and it would be bad press if we actually started losing people because we were so "inflexible" with God's word.

My response? "Thanks, but no thanks."

I have news for CNN and anyone else who might agree with them. You don't follow Christ for convenience, but rather you follow Him out of deep undeniable conviction. I believe the Bible is God's authority and life in Christ gives hope, healing and joy this world can NEVER take away.

If CNN was around when the events of John 6:66 happened, I'm sure they would have the same message for Jesus. "Temper it down, Jesus, the people are leaving, you're becoming less relevant. Don't you think its time to acquiesce a little to save the movement you've worked so hard to build?"

I have a feeling that conversation would have ended with a whip being made and some tables being flipped ...

Jesus wasn't a sell out.

Neither are His followers.

Christian faith is NOT supposed to be popular. And we have ample scriptural support:

Matthew 10:22 (NIV) All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

John 15:18–19 (ESV) If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Philippians 3:18 (NIV) For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Matthew 24:12–13 (NIV) Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

You think Jesus or Paul were preparing us to be popular with these statements. How about this one:

Luke 6:26 (ESV) Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

In other words, Jesus says, "if you are popular while you follow me, you aren't doing it right!"

Maybe however, we Christian churches have sent the wrong message. Maybe in our quest to be relevant and effective in our ministry, we have falsely conveyed the idea that we'll do anything to be relevant and effective. Success brings a whole new set of temptations that trying to get there never had. What happens if things go poorly as a result of following Christ? What will we do?

Maybe we'll get back to our roots in the faith. When Peter and John left the Sanhedrin jumping for joy that they were counted "worthy to suffer dishonor" for the Name of Jesus, they weren't worried about tax-exempt status or annual budgets. They were free in the deepest sense of the word. Nothing could stop them.

I don't know about you, but there's a part of my heart that aches for that kind of spirit in American Christianity.

Christianity bears a cost. Let's start talking about this again. It's not about free coffee in our cafe, comfortable chairs and cool music. It's painful. It's uncomfortable. It's hard. And it's awesome at the same time.

Following Jesus is about losing your life—friends, relatives, associations, reputations ... only to turn around and FIND REAL LIFE.

Maybe soon in this country, following Christ is going to cost church leaders television ministries, programs, buildings, attendees, reputations, associations and more.

But "If God be for us...

...you can finish the rest out loud.

Tim Hatch blogs about Christian faith and values at www.timhatchagain.com every week.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gretchen Robinson November 30, 2012 at 12:22 AM
many many Christians want separation of church and state, and have throughout American history. Check out Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is headed by Christian minister, Rev. Barry Lynn. www.au.org
Dan Johnson February 18, 2013 at 12:53 AM
"Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal." The Dalai Lama Yet treating others with respect and equality does not require any religious belief. Non-theistic ethical and philosophic systems, like Humanism and Ethical Culture, believe in equality, fairness, and respect for others. While all belief systems have differences, all major religions, ethical systems, and philosophies agree that each person should treat others as they would themselves. Almost all of these groups have passages in their holy texts, or writings of their leaders, which promote this Ethic of Reciprocity. The most commonly known version in North America is the Golden Rule of Christianity. It is often expressed as "Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you." Or in "natural law": that "no man require to reserve to himself any right, which he is not content should be reserved to every one of the rest". Not only is refusing to treat others as you would yourself a violation of every major ethical belief system, it is a violation of the promise of equality in the founding documents and required by the 5th and 14th amendments. Legal discrimination stigmatizes, dehumanizes, and causes needless harm, while treating others equally under the law harms no one.
Gretchen Robinson February 18, 2013 at 01:59 AM
The Jewish form of the Golden Rule is do not do to others that you have found to be intolerant to you. That is harder. I like the Ethical Culture Society and religious Humanists, who live in a religious congregation, doing good, serving others, all without any recourse to the supernatural. Let's all keep to our own beliefs or non-belief and all get along. After all freedom of religion works because no one denomination predominates. Some of the early colonies, Massachusetts included, had an establishment church--and that one was close to a theocracy. As Roger Williams found out.
Carol Bragg February 18, 2013 at 03:43 AM
My son used to say that the best form of the Golden Rule is to do unto others what they would have you do unto them -- in other words, don't assume you know based on your own likes and dislikes, but instead ask. It means being other-centered for the other's sake, which is the same as agape, sometimes described as God's love operating in the human heart.
Gretchen Robinson February 19, 2013 at 02:32 AM
thanks Carol. Your son is very wise.

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