I just read a blog from another pastor declaring his departure from the “Evangelical Christian Fold” because of its judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and lack of cultural sensitivity. I’m not surprised to see the increased distancing from a conservative movement within biblical Christianity because, well, there is an “ounce of truth that benefits (or hurts) like ripples in a pond” (Nikki Giovanni).
My concern is not the ripples flowing from an ounce of truth attacking Evangelicalism, but, more importantly, the denigration brought on the cause and mission of Jesus. If someone asks me, “Are you an Evangelical?” my response is, “Tell me what you mean by `Evangelical,’ and I’ll tell you if I am one.” When we enter a conversation with different meanings for the same word, we will inevitably draw different conclusions.
Historically, an Evangelical is someone who believes the Bible is true, Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, and the church is a community of people who love and follow Jesus and live on mission for Him.
What Evangelicalism means in our current culture is a movement of Republican, homophobic, racist, misogynist politics cloaked in a quasi-Christian community. This perspective is evinced in a recent corporation’s Diversity Training, which included the following in a list of “Racially Motivated Violent Extremists, a.k.a. Hate Groups: Alt-Right, Anti-Immigration, Anti-LGBTQ, Anti-Muslim, Antisemitism, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi … and … CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.”
Whether you consider yourself an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus, or simply someone with a Christian identity, how do we get from where we are (Christians are the bad guys/gals) to where we should be (Christians are people who love and follow Jesus, and, though not perfect, they know how to love others well)?
Many people within my circle of influence respond by saying, “We need to uphold the truth! And if people don’t like it, that’s on them! Jesus said we need to expect persecution, and here it is!”
Should we uphold truth? Without question. Will some reject it? Unfortunately, yes. Should we expect persecution? Most assuredly.
The issue in my mind is not our position so much as our posture. Somehow Jesus held to a position of calling people to “sin no more,” while demonstrating a posture of “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11). Sinners felt welcomed in the presence of Jesus, and it was His posture that led people to embrace His position (Luke 19:1-10).
My hope is that we will embrace Jesus’ position and posture, and see a world divided united where all of our polarization begins to give way to peace.
“For I have given you an example, that you also
should do just as I have done to you” (Jesus, John 13:15, ESV).