A dream; a story; a challenge

A dream

Two nights ago I dreamed there was a movement of Christians all over the country who had decided to pray in public.  They asked to pray in a secular context before business meetings. They prayed openly before meals asking the non-believers with them how they could pray for them. They refused to be intimidated by the current culture that in many situations, looks down on the Christian lifestyle. They weren't religious or confrontational or political. They weren't obnoxious in a "holier than thou," super-spiritual way. But they were willing to live out their faith under the public eye.

A story

When we lived in the UK and Tony (my husband) still practiced as a doctor, the General Medical Council, the licensing body for physicians in the country, sent a letter to all the family doctors. It explained that whereas up until now, a doctor had to get consent from the parent of a minor child before any kind of medical procedure, from this time on, certain situations were exempt from that. This included contraception/abortion. So a doctor had to get parental consent before operating on an ingrowing toenail, but wasn't allowed to tell the parent that their daughter wanted to go on the pill.

At that time, Tony led a ministry to doctors and others in the caring professions. He phoned several of them to see what they thought, and then drafted a letter to the GMC explaining that our organization represented more than 2,000 family doctors, and that if they wanted to remove their medical licenses, they could, but he would like them to know up front that the doctors he represented planned to disobey this edict.

A few weeks went by. Then they had the nicest letter in reply saying that the Council had no idea that so many doctors felt that strongly and that they were free to go with their conscience in these matters.

I often wonder what would have happened if in 1962, when prayers in the classroom was deemed unconstitutional, the Christian teachers in this country had refused to comply with the law.

A challenge

The climate in this country is becoming increasingly anti-Christian. In our institutes of higher learning, Christianity is ridiculed. The beliefs on which this country was founded are being eroded. We are only a generation away from being a post-Christian nation.

Are we willing to stand up and be counted? Are we willing to buck the trends? Are we more concerned about the Kingdom of God than our own reputations? What does it look like for us to follow Jesus in a way that is radically different and makes a radical difference?

 

Are there advantages to living in a post-Christian nation?

Derelict church
Photo credit: phill.d (Creative Commons)

The way this country is trending, unless the Lord intervenes, it may not be long before the USA is a post-Christian nation. Only 4% of adults currently have a Biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making. We are potentially only a generation away from being like many countries in Europe where the church is effectively irrelevant.

I've lived in a country that is post Christian. When we lived in the UK,  active Christians made up about 2% of the population. In the very poor area of London where we lived, less than 0.5% were in church on any given Sunday.

Recently, I've met with one of our medical school friends who has become a Christian (he describes himself as "the happy-clappy variety") since leaving medical school. One of his first comments to me was,  "Do you remember how all the rest of us used to ridicule and persecute the Christians?"

Persecution of Christians wasn't physical, but it was social/emotional. In the media, Christians are portrayed as weak-minded wimps. They are laughed at in institutes of higher learning. There is a definite cost to discipleship.

But this has some positive effects:

  • People take a discipleship lifestyle much more seriously. Admitting to being a Christian is not a step to be taken lightly. 
  • Light shines brighter in the darkness. The contrast between believers and non-believers is greater.
  • There's a sense of deeper community. You have less in common with the world and stronger relationships with those of God's family.
  • It's exciting to meet someone else who's a believer–something to discuss over the dinner table.
  • Christians and churches tend to work together more cooperatively. There's much less separation along denominational or theological lines.