Do you consider yourself a Christian, a believer, and/or an Evangelical? “Christianese” is rampant in our culture and perhaps to a fault. Like church denominations, religious labels can be counterproductive to the Church, dividing us like political party lines. Regardless of your answer, if you label yourself Christian, whatever the variety, your world is shaped to some degree by others who also claim the name. Understanding how your world is shaped is a key to successfully living out the purpose God had in mind for you when He placed you in it.
A recent article entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” by Internet Monk Michael Spencer is fiercely stirring the religious pot in America. Since thousands and perhaps even millions of Americans of many faiths are discussing it, Evangelicals would be wise to take note and learn of their impending doom. Yet their act of learning, or rather their absence of, is one of the contributing factors to the Evangelicals’ grim diagnosis.
Spencer states, “Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence.” Regarding evangelical youth, Spencer writes, “Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it.”
Spencer makes many valid arguments for his case, arguments that should inspire us to change. We need to recognize individually our personal weaknesses in living the Christian life and take action. We must admit that not only have we fallen short of the glory of God, we have fallen short of the plan of God for our new life in Christ. Spencer suggests that “we need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people . . .”
Yes, it is time for us to learn both the history of our faith and the wisdom of God. Assuredly it is time, too, for speaking up for the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded, and time for fighting the battles for freedom of religion and religious speech. But if our zeal for our religion outweighs our zeal for our relationship with Christ, we have missed the point. Ultimately, such misplaced zeal may prove costly to the Church at large.
Surely most Evangelicals are long on lecturing and short on learning. But in seeking to add more intelligence to our primarily “emotion-driven” faith, we might choose as our first area of study–“How the World Has Impacted Our Zeal.” Where is your zeal placed today? Is it found in your church, your cause, your culture, or your Christ? History teaches us that when Christians unite their passion for Christ Himself, the Church Itself is saved.