Goodbye, Christian America ... Hello, True Christianity
by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision The day I became a Christian, one of the first people I wanted to tell was my mother. I had considered myself an atheist while I studied neurobiology in college. But as I studied more, I discovered Jesus and became a Christian. It was the early 1970s, and my mother's response to my life-changing decision captured the view of most Americans at that time: "That's nice, but isn't everybody Christian?"
If my mother were alive today, I think she would agree that we are quickly moving toward a secular society. As this cultural shift has occurred, many Christians have reacted in frustration. We have fought to place the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and Christmas crèches outside town halls. We have sued over public prayers and crosses in state parks. One court recently weighed in on whether cheerleaders at a Texas school should be allowed to post Bible verses on their banners.
While symbols can be important, we have focused perhaps too much on them instead of the underlying reality they reflect. Instead, we need to go back to the basics of living as disciples of Christ, living missionally for Christ and demonstrating the gospel in tangible ways within our schools, workplaces and communities.
While I would be happy to see the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse wall, the fight over symbolic issues is backfiring, alienating people from the truths of the gospel rather than attracting them to it. The kind of Christianity the world responds to is the authentic "love your neighbor" kind. Its appeal can't be legislated through court battles and neither can courts stop its spread.