“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13 ESV)
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)
This is something I’ve been noticing as of late (at least from what I’ve personally been reading and seeing on a national and personal level, meaning it may not be what’s going on in the totality of things): that the sustained clamor of secular, anti-Christian, vitriolic chatter is kicking up a notch in terms of the audacity and indecency of it, publicly and in private conversations, among friends I have in the social networking world, even among supposed Christians oddly enough sometimes. The cynical bashing (not just criticizing) of Christians by (sometimes alleged) Christians for holding steady to the faith in practice seems striking to me and at odds with John’s doctrine of love for our brothers expounded upon in 1 John.
From the Nicki Minaj spectacle at the Grammy’s (and the subsequent lack of outrage), to personal conversations I’ve had, to the increasing level of hatred generally toward Christian notions and doctrines informing life at any level, whether in op-eds, interviews on the news, everywhere almost: Christianity is becoming a less tolerated belief system that informs public policy and of course morals.
I had an atheist friend who said recently in our chatting, quite chillingly (since he really meant it), that in the next several decades, Christianity will simply become “obsolete” and go the way of the Dodo bird. Now 1) some may just merely dismiss this as mere chatter and 2) I certainly know that Christ will build His church despite the odds and even through persecution.
But nevertheless, it’s statements like that which kind of put you back on your heals a bit, because it wasn’t just loose talk as a result of defending his atheism. This is something he really believes. The implication coming from him is that Christianity is so backward and narrow that it can’t possibly survive in the wake of science and human progress. In the course of the conversation, how and why it came up is what gives it the context too.
All of this to say: we’re not moving toward a post-Christian era, we’re in it. He’s not alone in his thought on this. I have quite a few other friends, from high school and whatnot, who think exactly the same thing. And it’s quickly turning from just (truly) tolerating Christians to opposing them actively it seems.
I’ve been recently disturbed by some of this because the slide seems to be accelerating. I’m not surprised, but in my human frailty, it is slightly fearful. And for the record, no, I’m not referring in any sense to Elephant Room 2, though that was certainly instructive to be sure and possibly correlative. That’s another discussion though.
I guess all of this is not that much different (in principle, notice) than the hatred experienced by Zechariah from his own people (Israel), who was then murdered by the same in a climax of fury. The Old and New Testaments are always instructive for present times, especially when it comes to persecution at all the varying levels, shapes and forms it takes.
What I’m curious to see is how “missional-ism, and [what I’m calling] Seeker 2.0, that is the merging of the two methodologies of seeker-ism and missional-ism” (broadly speaking, not necessarily the better examples and parts producing lasting fruit) and all this talk of “relevance” and “attraction” pans out in the face of rising persecution and deals with subordination by a culture bent on removing us from the public square, at least at first.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how trendy we are toward culture, in staying “up with the times”: if you support certain hot button issues (and believe me, a time is coming when you won’t be able to hide it), or claim Christ alone for salvation, or attempt to evangelize in any sense, that’s all outsiders are going to see and hear. That’s not to say Christians should be culturally irrelevant. I’m just making that point that it doesn’t matter whether you’re into Radiohead, organic food or whatever when it comes to persecution of a belief system. Someone coming from an ingrained secular humanist mindset could care less about your subjective tastes. I’m just not sure many of us Christians (actual and especially nominal) are prepared for the secular onslaught.
Thoughts? Am I just paranoid? Or do others see a dark cloud approaching in terms of where society is moving? I’d be curious to hear what others think on this, agree, disagree, whatever.