- How should Christians view their fellow North Americans? Taking all this into consideration, how should Christians in North America look at their society? To start, we need to remember that a great deal of our world has changed. Christians are no longer the dominant influence forming either political platforms or societal mores, however much they would like to be. To live as if this is not so would be to deny a new reality that has overtaken the Western World. There is little understanding of genuine Christian faith. Once this hits home it must affect how we view our friends, neighbors, and work associates.
At the very least, to relate to them in any way at all, we need first to BE in their world. That may sound like stating the obvious; most of us work in the marketplaces of life 5-6 days a week. But do we work there as Christians? In general, we do not, except maybe privately, secretly hiding our faith (out of fear?) because we might not know the answers to some of their questions. If we were more transparent about our faith, I dare say Christian influence would jump exponentially. Instead, we’ve become closet Christians in the living rooms of the world. Many of us isolate ourselves within an evangelical or main line church world, venturing into “the world” as Christians, as infrequently as possible. We may work in this world, earn a living, raise our kids, shop for food and clothes, pump gas, go on vacations and vote for the candidate of our choice; we just don’t interface with the people we meet as transparent Christians—more as non-descript Christians, with little or no Christian definition or expression to our lives. This is not good. It is almost as if we are afraid of being identified as Christians; it is almost as if being “Christian” brands us with a kind of societal stigmata. And, to a great extent, given the revelations of recent “Christian” evangelists, preachers, and other leaders, there is some truth in this.
But what if we were REAL in our Christian faith; what if we talked casually about our faith, answers to prayer, and about the difficulties we have sometimes with our faith, our lives, or our church? What if we talked about being upset over something our kids did that infuriated us, or the inner embarrassment and frustration we feel over our divorce as a bad expression of our faith? What if we were REAL in our relationships with people? What do you think; is that okay? Is it okay to, dare I use the word, fail, in our life of faith sometimes? Dare we tell people who are not Christians about our failures? I tend to think that people who are not believers in Christ will find our transparency surprisingly refreshing. Why? Because they are looking for faith to be real, to reflect the way we all deal with the issues of everyday life. They are looking for a faith that reflects a real relationship with a real God who does something for people in the real world. They are looking for TRUTH to be reflected in the joys, struggles, failures and triumphs of everyday life. If it doesn’t do that, on what level are we living our Christian faith out anyway? Does your faith hang in a sort of limbo above the struggles and successes of everyday life, only to drop down to earth when you feel that the definition of something works? Come on, now… is that really your faith? To me, that’s excluding God from life so that we can feel good about what we’ve accomplished. Then, when things don’t work out, we turn on God as if he has failed us. Not goodagain.
Frankly, I find no replacement for genuine Christians, living transparently before their friends, neighbors, work associates, and relatives. I do not mean before their Christian friends, Christian neighbors, Christian work associates, and Christian relatives: I mean the people who never darken the door of a church, who have never had a Christian thought. Don’t believe they’re not out there; don’t kid yourself. You just can’t see them; but they are there. We need to open our eyes to see the world around us in a new light—the light of the glory of Christ, clarifying our lives and opening a window to God in the lives of those who cannot see him. Oh, bye the bye, that window is YOU. So, if you’re NOT there, in their world, what do you think they see of God the Father? Get the point? For us to have any Christian effect on any of our friends the first thing we need to do is actually have friends who are not Christians. We need to cultivate friendships with the “normal” people around us. But we need to do so not as a set up for the presentation of some gospel outline, but so they will be able to see the God we love present in us in the daily issues of life. And, frankly, with all the advances in transportation, communication, medicine, technology, and the realigning of the residential/marketplace, it still comes down to people. It comes down to Christians, walking along side of people, normal people, so they can see with their own eyes what real Christianity is all about.