The youth of a nation fights its wars, fills its workforce, and forges a national identity. If you’re high school/ college-age at the time of this writing, you fit the description above. Taking it one step further, if you happen to be a Christian as well, you understand the whole national identity business is a direct concern for believers, because a nation’s identity determines whether it will leap into the arms of secular debasement or fan the flames of revival.
Dear Christian Youth,
You’ve likely heard the United States is parked at a moral crossroads due to its deviation from not only Christian values but society-sustaining ethical lines that have been around a great deal longer than post-modern philosophy. Consequently, the Christian patriarchs—some of whom may be your grandfathers and grandmothers—long to see the future generations avoid lumbering into the cesspool of moral decadence that’s become the U S of A, and guess who’s responsible for spit-shining our nation’s scarlet letter? That’s right, it’s us—the lauded future generation.
So what’s a young buck Christian to do? In the court of public opinion, Christianity seems to occupy the space of anti-anything-the-secularists-don’t-like. Unfortunately for Christian conservatives, secularists tow in a hefty swath of our culture, so that means you’re the unpopular alternative to the trendy activism of “let’s accommodate anyone who claims to be oppressed.” Hence, the problem with your Christianity resides in an adherence to a fixed set of Biblical values which are neither circumstantially or emotionally fluid. In vulgar terms, the God you follow and the precepts in the Bible you trumpet are going to sting some folk’s feelings, and accordingly, they will demand an apology from you simply for serving God.
What I’m intimating here is spreading the Gospel and dragging the U.S. from its secular septic tank will be a sacrificial endeavor. If you want to “make America great again” by preaching the Word and leading hearts to Christ, it’s paramount to understand your popularity, public image, and number of Twitter followers are not the focus of evangelism. Living a radical life of holiness must be the intended endeavor, and WARNING! living like Jesus will most definitely offend others no matter how seeker-friendly you attempt to live it out.
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” -Mark 8:36
With this in mind, it’s critical to commit to following God no matter how many friends, job promotions, or feel-good-moments it costs. Put more plainly, don’t be intimidated into squelching your Christian faith so you can appease the whims of the majority. As author Eric Metaxas puts it (I’m paraphrasing here), religious liberty means a Christian is free to live out his faith all seven days a week rather than just during Sunday Morning Service. I’d also add the Great Commission has perpetuity beyond the sanctuary, and remember, a Biblically-rugged backbone will assist your venture to put on the full armor of God and get those Gospel shoes moving to preach on the street corners.
The surrogate option has odious implications.A generation too browbeaten to preach the Gospel in its entirety will be one undermining the yeoman’s work done by Christian politicians, evangelists, theologians, CEOs, activists, professors, and scholars preceding us. The implications of this are a completely godless society, and I mean a completely godless society—as in one where Christians are legally muffled from raising public dissent at the occurrence of incursions against religious liberty.
For all my denouncements about our culture’s blatant immorality (which are well-merited), there are still Christian men and women who retain a stiff enough spine to defend the faith. As writer and blogger Matt Walsh notes in his article”Dear Christians, Please, I Beg You: Stop Apologizing For Your Faith” at theblaze.com, “the spine always goes before the soul.” Our generation is in jeopardy of redacting portions of the Gospel as a preemptive measure to avoid militant secularists and liberals from throwing a symphony of self-righteous hissy fits. If the Christian youth evangelizes by self-redaction, then we are more of an affront to religious liberty than the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union and yes, I said it).
Appropriately, when the topic shifts to evangelism, every non-believer loads up with what I call the “love indictment.” The love indictment is as follows: anytime a Christian comments on, objects to, or has a moral opinion on a cultural debate, the responsible secularists will respond with this beauty, “But I though the Bible tells you to love, so why are you judging?” This is a clever way to gag Christians, and even better, it perverts the Biblical definition of love. Christlike love exists in treating someone with compassion and respect because they are 1) Created in God’s image and 2) a human. Follow rapper Andy Mineo’s lead in his song “In His Image” where he raps, “Love God, love people, and thoroughly hate sin.”
On the other hand, love is not the acceptance and promotion of immoral principles just to sidestep the wrath of the masses. Notice when the John the Baptist was “making straight the way for the Lord,” he was calling the masses to repent from their sins. The Great Commission doesn’t require us to preach from complete perfection; rather, Jesus frankly commanded us to make known our ransom story in Him despite our lifelong clash with sin. The Apostles Peter and John were well-acquainted with sin, yet they could only preach from what they saw and heard (Acts 4:20). If the Apostles had delayed their ministry out of fear that they weren’t yet “holy enough,” they would have never made it out of Jerusalem. We owe it to God to speak forth what He’s made plain, and it would be untimely to be known as the generation that distorted the Gospel under societal intimidation. Jesus didn’t die for humanity so accommodations could be made for our sin. He died so that we might be found righteous in God’s eyes and make war on the sin nature constantly grappling with us.
If our generation is unwilling to confront the fact that we and the rest of humanity has a problem with sin, then we might as well pack the Bibles away because we’ll be selling the Gospel short. When Jesus was flayed to the bone with a flagellum and his wrists and feet were cracked by nails, He knew full well who He was dying for. He was dying for people like me: an unregenerate, reprobate sinner who couldn’t meet the standard. He died for an irreverent sinner from Small Town, PA, who could not keep it together, and that’s the uncompromising love I aim to emulate. Tossing out any other Gospel than the breadth of what’s contained in the Bible would be a slap in the face of our Savior’s sacrifice.
Guys and Girls, it’s not vogue to be an apostle. It’s not swank to be staunchly pro-life, disagree with same-sex marriage, or abstain from sex before marriage. Standing for Biblical principles won’t get you endless retweets from Twitter activists. It’s not hip to support a Christian conservative like Ted Cruz in the primary elections instead of “Feeling the Bern” like your sophisticated peers who flout the candidacy of a liberal messiah named Bernie Sanders. Sisters in Christ, Oprah’s not going to interview you for dressing modestly and Brothers, Lebron’s not going to dap you up for raising your hands during worship. You’re most likely going to be told that your faith belongs with the Geico cavemen and behind a 1950s white picket fence. In short, you’re going to feel the lash from the people who march at gay pride parades and Planned Parenthood Pink Outs—the very same people who raucously demand tolerance—because you live by a Biblical standard that hurts their feelings. Being an evangelical Christian will get you called a homophobe, elitist, racist, and an anti-rational conservative fundamentalist.
If you think this is too much to take up your cross, I get it. A lot of disciples couldn’t take it either, and they exited, stage right. However, I don’t agree with the characterization that it’s too much. Those disciples that left Jesus—they had the full capacity to take up their cross. It was the fear of resistance that did them in and scandalously, the other secret was that they didn’t actually believe Jesus was the real deal! If you’re a believer, God has equipped you with the Holy Spirit and full armor, so any excuses you toss up in defense of a comfortable, passive Christianity is a beach ball for Jesus to spike right back into your unwilling lap.
Facing the giants requires you to strap on the armor, and therein lies the beginning of the battle. How do we overcome the fear? Pray for boldness, because the 1st century Church did (Acts 4:23-31). I understand how infuriating it can be to live out an authentic Christian faith in the midst of a hedonistic culture, but when I get down, I remember the apostles had to confront own their insecurities and doubts as well. Nevertheless, they rocked the world—amidst maniacal persecution, I might add—because they wouldn’t abandon the faith and were feign to stay silent. Thus, the question must be posed, “Are we Christians or fence-riders?” The Persecuted Church in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the globe have firmly planted Christ’s cross upon their backs, so I can’t come up with a passable alibi for avoiding evangelism.
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.”-John 6:60-64
I don’t write this piece from a place of perfection (stylistically or spiritually). I’m just a fourth-line grinder, a raw 19-year-old writer too wet-behind-the-ears to remain silent. And that’s all God has ever asked for: people who will testify. We want to be the star running back but few desire to be the fullback who throws the block to clear the lane. No one wants to be charging over the volcanic ash of Iwo Jim as their friends are getting shredded by machine gun fire; we just want to hurry up and flash forward to the Medal of Honor ceremony. God’s looking for those who are willing to stand the gap when the walls are crumbling.
This is what grit-filled, bread-of-affliction Christianity looks like. It’s Jesus sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, Stephen getting stoned by a mob, and Peter getting crucified upside down. Are we willing to follow God simply because He’s God despite a hostile culture and thinning friend group? Will we take Paul’s words seriously when he says he counts all things a loss for Christ? Who will go? Who will bite down on their mouthguard and take a shift on the ice? Who will throw a block? While I may not be worthy journalistically, theologically, or professionally, I’ll go because I’m redeemed. This generation has been called, and I know there are others who have answered the call long before I have. However, therein lies an element of young believers who are comfortably resting on the sidelines. If you fit the latter description, it’s time to get out of the trenches and charge, because the Third Great Awakening is ahead.
“Whoever acknowledges Me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” -Matthew 10:32
Why do I care so much? It’s because Jesus redeemed, ransomed, and cleansed me. No one else can offer that, so when God says something is either right or wrong, I take notice and believe the rest of society should as well. I write because Jesus invades culture no matter how thick the roots of immorality are. It can be weary to feel the scorn from the “enlightened ones,” yet remember the One who has risen. The crown of life awaits those who overcome, so I call this current Christian generation to take up their cross and pound the Great Commission into every cornerstone of society—whether it be political, cultural, or ecclesiastical.
One final word of advice: you know that national scarlet letter we’re supposed to spit- shine? I suppose we should toss America’s scarlet A back into Satan’s lap with the utmost expediency. The A denotes Adultery; the badge is fitting, for America has committed infidelity against God with an especially belligerent brand of self-indulgent entitlement. It’s time to shuck it with all the fire and brimstone the Holy Spirit brings, and speak the Word at the risk of public dissention.
Author’s Note: This article may speak to the up-and-coming generations, but its principles have an daily application for readers of all ages. For an expert opinion on these issues, check out the work I cited by writer and blogger Matt Walsh, “Dear Christians, Please, I Beg You: Stop Apologizing For Your Faith.” (http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/dear-christians-please-i-beg-you-stop-apologizing-for-your-faith/)
Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with ears to hear to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. The great pursuit of his life is to live by the words he writes—which is currently an ongoing project. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.