“May you live in interesting times.” That Chinese proverb could be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on how we perceive it. As Christians in the United States in 2016, we live in interesting times. It doesn’t matter if we asked for it or not (or want it or not), it’s the truth. Erick Erickson make this statement in You Will Be Made to Care:
Each of us is going to have to choose – believe in Christ’s teachings or the world’s teachings, but either way you will be made to care. Jesus himself said it: “No one can serve two masters…” (Matt. 6:24). For far too long, Christians in America have been able to coast in peace on the faith fumes of yesterdays believers. But a peaceful people is seldom a religious people. And coasting can only take you one direction – downhill. It has been said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” We tend to change direction in life for one of two reasons. Either a crisis forces us to make a move, or our own vision for a better life pulls us in a new direction. Christians in America have lost our internal drive to grow our faith – because we haven’t had to. Because everything still looked okay on the outside, we thought we could afford to drift. We were wrong. The culture that we live in will no longer permit Christians to remain invisible, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Kingdom of Heaven, even thought it may be briefly painful for believers in America.
Believers need to remember that our faith and loyalty to God are distinct from our love for our country. Not always incompatible, but different. And Christians may soon need to choose between the two as they are accused of being freaks and enemies of the state, of upending the social order of the secular elite. There’s going to have to be a resurgence in orthodox belief and boldness among believers so we can say we are Christians first and Americans second. The Judeo-Christian foundation we once shared with most people in our culture is no longer there. Russell Moore correctly notes that we can no longer make the assumption that people share what we believe. “There was a time when Christians could assume that most people in American culture agreed with us on values, if not on gospel. Even the way that some Christians engaged [culture] was to say, ‘This is not the real America. These are just some elites in Hollywood or somewhere else.’ Well, looking around now, those issues that were once wedge issues for the Right are now wedge issues for the Left in almost every category – on marriage, on sexuality, on marijuana, on drug use, on all of these sorts of things.”
Yes, the winds of change are blowing, and the changes do not necessarily favor the comfort of individual believers. Like countless Christians who’ve gone before us, we might wish we could avoid the war on our freedom to believe, but that choice is not ours to make. As Gandalf noted in The Lord of the Rings, we do not get to choose the battles of our time: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
(pp. 206-207, italics in original)