The Church has always struggled with the temptation to share an ideological framework with the secular world. And yet history has shown, time and time again, that Christians do everything but thrive when they entwine themselves with the world’s political, social and economic systems. But why not focus on the similarities that unite rather than differences that divide—we’re all after the same thing at the end of the day, right?
While we may use the same words, such as justice, love, peace and mercy, they should hold very different meanings to us. We might look the same on social media—making public statements in favor of various political or social causes—but we should be operating from two separate motives. One is to defend the interest of Man, and ours to ultimately glorify God.
God’s people have been a persecuted minority in most parts of the world for centuries. But in North America, the lines between the Church and the socio-political state have remained rather blurry, creating a tension that we are now facing head-on. We can either accept the worldly patterns and mechanisms or reject them and alienate ourselves from society. In short, Millennial Christians will either syncretize or marginalize.
Syncretization is “getting in sync” with the world. It means shying away from the parts of the Gospel most offensive to the current cultural context instead of continuing to affirm the uncomfortable truths of historical orthodoxy. We begin to embrace the language of contemporary dialogue, celebrating whatever the majority social or political expression is at the time.
And when our inward convictions protest quietly in the back of our mind, we “reason, on a level slightly below our unconscious, and draw what comfort we can from the vagueness and remoteness of it all.” (AW Tozer) This is becoming the collective peace of mind of the syncretizing Church—holding it fast in an unrelenting gridlock of humanistic spiritualism.
While martyrdom may seem rather remote to our current context, the thought of taking a stand for Christ’s scandalous Kingdom may feel even more frightening. Rather than openly sharing the Good News of the Gospel, we try to frame our beliefs in a carefully constructed way to avoid offending anyone. Instead of speaking the truth in love, we try to say as little as possible.
The current challenge for our generation will be to stand firm in the unchanging convictions of Jesus Christ instead of wavering with the current political or social climate. What do we have to lose?
A lot, actually. We could lose friends, the respect of society and, perhaps someday, our rights. Yes, the marginalization of Bible-believing, Spirit-led Christians is well underway in North America—and we must let it happen. We must allow ourselves to become increasingly rare, rejected and renounced.
Do not misunderstand—this is not about upholding archaic traditions or a legalistic code of conduct. It is about continuing to affirm that living Truth for which millions of fellow brothers and sisters have died. That Jesus is indeed the only Way, Truth and Life. Neither president nor pop-culture matter if our allegiance is to Christ and our primary aim is to abide in Him.
Whenever certain aspects of an authentic expression of the Christian faith get unpopular, we must decide whether we will syncretize or marginalize.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:6
“The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:18