The great need of our day is for followers of Jesus to experience him with such transforming passion that we cannot help sharing his truth and love with our broken culture. The rising secular ideology of our day can replace religion, but it cannot replace Jesus. Nor will it hold allure for those whose hearts and lives are being changed by him each day.
Why does the secularized culture seem to be winning as the church seems to be receding? Here’s one factor: We must do what God says to experience what he intends. Jesus instructed us to remove anything that causes us to sin (Matthew 18:8-9). We must let go of all that is not of God and surrender all that is. Then and only then can he use us fully.
In a somewhat recent innovation, many have embraced "deconstruction", or deconversion. In and of itself, to self-examine faith is a good thing. The eleventh-century Christian philosopher Anselm of Canterbury spoke of "faith seeking understanding," which is "an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of God." Unfortunately, this is not the kind of faith seeking understanding that's going on in much of the deconstruction stories today.
Faithful efforts do not make for good copy and will never adorn the top of a newspaper. And yet, there are more Christians living out the gospel in this way than there are who exploit Christianity for their own ends. There can be a temptation to see only the good and turn a blind eye toward the bad, but there can be an equally powerful pull to only see the bad and never see the good. Ultimately, the story of God’s work in the world through His Church will always be a somewhat messy story, one marked by both pockets of hope and images of despair.
One of the most important effects of embracing a deliberate, self-conscious Christian worldview, and losing the sacred-secular distinction so many Christians have absorbed from the world around us, is seeing the depth, the breadth, and the width of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every sphere of life. Once we see life this way, our understanding of serving Jesus is radically re-shaped in light of the unassailable, undefeatable, and advancing Kingdom of God.
In recent days, I’ve been asking myself why the crisis of Christian leadership is so acute in our day. Is it that our 24/7 news and social media platforms make it easier to report and read about clergy abuse? Is it that a hostile culture and media amplify every story of clergy failure to reinforce their agenda for replacing Christianity with their secular ideology? Undoubtedly these are part of the answer. But I’m convinced that there’s a deeper story at work in our day, one that affects and can infect every Christian in our culture, myself included.