Being a Christian in our modern world is undoubtedly a challenging way to live. By choosing God's ways, we are saying 'no' to many others. Sometimes this leads us to a few dilemmas concerning our position as Christians in society.
An example of this is whenever we take a stand for our faith: we are saying we are different to all other faiths. This exclusive claim of Christianity is difficult to maintain in our modern society which promulgates a culture of postmodern thought and relativism—the idea all religions can or probably do lead to God.
What can a person gain from being a Christian in our modern society?
If you recognise the traditional Trinitarian God is the one true God and He is holy, you are, in essence, sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the many fingers of society. You cause an offence to those who do not agree with what you believe. But is this to be unexpected?
St Paul writes to the church in Corinth, Greece:
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
- 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verses 21–24
Our choice to be Christian is considered as wisdom of God by Scripture, yet denounced as foolishness of men of the world. St Paul makes it clear this is the way of God: using weak or foolish things to shame the wise and the strong.
Things the world considers weak includes humility, grace, mercy, gentleness, and other fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is foolishness, not because these things themselves are foolish, but because these things are contrary to the ways of the world. Thus to the world, it is a weak, foolish, and unnecessary thing to seek grace, to seek forgiveness, and to humble ourselves before God.
Recognising sin and seeking forgiveness is like manual transmission to the modern world. Most don't understand or know it, and the few who do are considered to be enthusiasts. Christians are like these few who are enthusiasts. Our tradition or doctrines of confession and forgiveness of sins are considered to be outdated and outmoded by more evolved and less alarming notions.
Sadly, a significant number of modern churches (like megachurches) seldom focus on the need for forgiveness, or the seriousness of sin. These are considered medieval and ancient in light of our role as champions of social justice and loving our neighbour. Whilst the latter are very important, it is more important to understand our place before God.
In love we must speak the truth with gentleness and respect. If we are ever tempted to water down our Gospel in fear of offending someone, just remember God may bear your offense by you not being honest and faithful to Him and your hearers.
Modern Christianity has lost the lustre and strength Christ gave to his apostles and their successors: a clear sense of God, truth, and morality. I am not immune to the effects of this. Christ Himself can explain these effects: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matthew chapter 24, verse 24) Thus, according to our Lord, even the Church can be laid to the wayside if we fail to remain faithful in doctrine and practice to the One who gave us life.
Worth the cost?
The big questions hanging over all this are these: Is there a God? If so, how can we know?
There is only one sure way we can know: through Jesus Christ. Jesus not only made claims of being the Messiah, the King, and God Himself, He followed through on His claims by offering Himself up as a sacrifice for sins on a Roman cross, and more importantly, rising from the dead and ascending to heaven.
Historians do not contest His existence, or His crucifixion. The debate by skeptics regarding the validity of his resurrection has rekindled the same fire in modern times as it did during the Roman Empire, when Christianity was but an infant. If the claims are true, then it matters to all, because the Gospel speaks to the souls of mankind not just to minds and hearts; not only to bless and challenge you, but to transform you to be holy as God is.
Jack is studying Commerce and Arts at Macquarie University, he is part of a family of five, his hobbies include computer gaming, football, learning languages, and reading heaps of church history. He is an active part of the English Ministry at the Campsie Chinese Congregational Church. He sometimes also attends St Paul's Anglican at Burwood. He hopes to one day pursue a career in the Church.
Jack Liang's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jack-liang.html