Sometime in the last 4 years, America demographically shifted from a majority Christian country to a minority Christian country. For over three centuries Christianity has been a dominant force in the creation of American culture, law, and institutions. In Church, every institution, practice, conference, school, and worldview was forged during the era of Christian dominance. Every experience we have had up to this point has been created by or at least influenced by the kind of Christianity that is developed when its community leaders sit at the table and hold the levers of power.
We have known for some time that the winds have been changing. The moral revolutions that have rocked America have been indicators that as Christian influence loses its dominance, a pandora’s box of competing identities and world-views has been opened. The Bible reader is unsurprised by this. Our worldview accounts for both the ascent and descent of a nation as judged by the barometer of faithfulness to God. What we may be surprised by is that this shift in American has happened during our lifetimes, and not during some far-off future. There is a massive inflection point confronting Christianity in North America. As the winds have changed so do they point to the future, a future that does not include Christianity as a dominant cultural and power player.
What will your response be? For some, the prospect will be exciting as we will witness Christianity shed its excess weight packed on during the decadent decades of dominance. For others, there will be fear as the “other” takes the seat at the table once occupied by Christians. For yet others, the days ahead will simply blow away the thin topsoil of faith to reveal the hard soil of a hard heart that sees no value in associating with Christianity. This in fact is already happening as the fastest-growing religion in America today is the nones, or nonaffiliated.
One danger we will all have to deal with is how our hearts are shaped by this experience. There are a lot of pressures facing the faithful, and pressure can harden our hearts, diminishing our view of God’s work in our world, and tilling fertile soil for unbelief to take root. It’s in a context like this, intense pressure, competing worldviews, a distant view of God’s Word, that Hebrews repeats an Old Testament warning to not harden your heart.
This Sunday we will apply the oil of God’s Word to the leather of our heart in order to keep it soft and flexible instead of dry and brittle. We will worship with songs that will give you an opportunity to rebel against the darkness of this age. We will fellowship with an alien love, that is foreign to the world. And we will walk away edified, equipped, and encouraged to walk faithfully regardless of the waves that rock the boat of our faith in this American cultural ocean.