Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ceremonial deism is ruining America ...

I recently was the victim of a very malicious crime. The person who committed this felony has items of Christian symbolism strewn throughout her home. It certainly didn't help her to live out, and act out, a godly life. The symbolism of faith in her home was void of meaning, as her behavior was anything but Christian.

The same is true for America.

Many of the professing Christians in our nation are more concerned about "ceremonial deism" than they are living, day-in and day-out, an authentic Christian life as a faithful and obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.

"Ceremonial deism" isn't just a phrase. It's actually a legal term for "nominally religious statements and practices deemed to be merely ritual and non-religious through long customary usage" (see Wikipedia for a definition). Examples of ceremonial deism are the hanging of the 10 commandments in a courtroom, "under God" being stated in the the Pledge of Allegiance, and the phrase "In God We Trust" being printed on our currency.

 So many professing Christians become irate and express themselves in less than Christlike behavior over battles to  make sure that public displays and expressions that include God are retained in America's public squares. I'm not arguing that there isn't value in these displays and expressions. The problem is that we've become a nation of ceremonial deists, people who are far more concerned about an outward expression of Christianity, than the reality of being a Christian nation.

People throw fits when someone in a store says "Happy holidays!" to them instead of "Merry Christmas!" but the same professing Christian knows a score of people, from family members to friends and neighbors, who do not know Christ and yet they will never share the Gospel with them.

People fight for the ability to place a manger scene on city hall property, but will not share the Gospel with unsaved co-workers

People lose their cool and spew the most vile words in online political arguments, believing that only Republicans will restore our country as a "Christian nation," and yet the same people won't even share the Gospel with their close personal friends who are lost and need to know Jesus Christ.

People argue that our nation has a Christian heritage but fail to share the Gospel with lost people they know, thus directly contributing to the continued decline of Christianity in America and the steep decline of our churches.

To fume and fight and fuss over publicly looking like a Christian nation without being a Christian nation is nothing short of gross hypocrisy. It isn't public displays and expressions of a Christian nature that is the great need of Americans; what is the great need is Jesus Christ reigning in the lives of our citizens. Without that, you can litter America with Christian symbols but it won't make a difference. Symbols do not make the dead alive, symbols do not transform sinners into saints, and symbols do not save souls. Only Christ does.

Our symbols, displays, and expressions of faith have no value if they do not literally represent people of faith, people who live out their faith, a faith that leads us to deny ourselves, to take up our own cross every day, and to literally walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

When we do that, when we're a nation who believes and follows Jesus Christ, then our symbols will be more than empty symbolism. They will represent people who pray for their leaders and their nation, people who are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share it enthusiastically whenever they have opportunity, people who love their neighbors as themselves, and --- above all --- people who love the Lord with all their heart, all their strength, all their soul, and all their mind.

So what is more important to you: having the appearance of Christianity, or living as an obedient ambassador of Jesus Christ?

Scotty

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