There is a great deal of angst in and over American Christianity these days. Liberal Christians accuse traditional evangelical Christians of selling out Jesus in order to support President Donald Trump. Traditional evangelical Christians scoff at that coming from those who they say sold out Jesus in order to support Hillary, and Obama before her.
Of course, as is so often the case, the truth may be lodged somewhere in the middle. There are a number of traditional evangelical Christians who support various policies of President Trump while still disagreeing with much of his rhetoric, his temperament, even his character and personal integrity. I know because I am one such Christian.
In the same way, there were undoubtedly a great number of liberal Christians who supported various policies of Barack Obama while disagreeing with his celebrity narcissism, his repeated race-baiting, even his shocking opposition to protecting innocent newborns who had survived abortion attempts.
So as the new year dawns, perhaps it would be wise for all of us who wear the name of Jesus to dial back the invective just long enough to do some introspection. Several months ago, Brett McCracken wrote an absolutely brilliant piece that every one of us who claim first allegiance to the eternal kingdom would be wise to read. He effectively outlines 8 different warning signs that our faith has become “too comfortable.” And it starts here:
If you’re all-in with one political party and never feel any tension whatsoever with your Christian faith, it probably means your faith is too comfortable. Whether you’re a lifelong Democrat or a diehard Republican, a robust Christian faith should create dissonance with politics at various points. A faith that aligns perfectly with one political party is suspiciously convenient and lacks prophetic witness.
Memes circulate regularly now on social media lampooning “Republican Jesus” and his refusal to feed the 5,000 because it would create dependency, or him declining to heal the sick because of their pre-existing conditions. And while there are obvious contextual abuses that accompany such characterizations, it certainly doesn’t hurt Republican Christians to ensure that their politics is kept subject to their faith rather than the other way around. And the same is true for Democrat Christians.
But McCracken’s piece went way beyond politics. And that’s where I found his piece particularly helpful as it outlined other concerning indications of a faith that has grown too casual. Things like:
If your Christian faith never confronts your idols and challenges your sinful habits—but only ever affirms you as you are—this is a sure sign of a too-comfortable faith. Healthy faith doesn’t just celebrate you as you are but relentlessly molds and refines you into the likeness of Christ, which is a beautiful but necessarily uncomfortable process.
And how about this:
It’s always more comfortable to just “live and let live” when there’s an offense or sin that needs to be called out. It’s more comfortable to just shrug when we see others in our community making unhealthy decisions. But this isn’t true Christian love. Love isn’t opposed to truth, and if your faith doesn’t include the capacity to speak hard truths in love, it’s too comfortable.
McCracken has five other warning signs, but these three alone are enough to challenge and chasten most of us. And if your first reaction is to get defensive about these points, that probably means you need it more than you know.