In college, I was introduced to Jesus – the real Jesus of the scriptures, not the one who wages culture wars and wags the finger, by a group of Christians in an Evangelical college fellowship. I am thankful for that face of Evangelicalism.
As a young adult, I was lifted into the stratosphere by worship that reached me musically and emotionally. I was blessed by the friendships of fellow believers who accepted me, the token white guy trying to cross racial barriers by attending an all Asian-American church. I am also thankful for that face of Evangelicalism.
But today’s news about Richard Cizik getting canned from the National Association of Evangelicals for suggesting – horror of horrors – that perhaps it isn’t the end of the world to have civil unions (we’re not even talking about marriage here) for gay couples – may be the end of the line for me and Evangelicalism.
Please know that I am not sweeping all Evangelicals under the same blanket. But my comments here are directed at the mainstream of Evangelicalism – the very mainstream that makes it difficult for me to continue being associated with Evangelicalism.
You see, I don’t want any part of the culture war.
When Christ met the woman at the well, he did not wag his finger. He became her friend.
When Jesus ate with Levi the tax collector, he did not tell him he was working to get laws passed to outlaw his profession. He accepted his offer of table fellowship and enjoyed his company.
And when he found the woman confronted by crowds legally justified to execute her, he refused to condemn her and convinced others to do the same.
This is the Christ of the New Testament. In many ways, the gospel can be boiled down to a few words he directed to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you.”
The Christ that I have come to understand from the scriptures and from the indwelling of his spirit is not the Culture War Christ. He is not about making people follow a list of rules to work their way into heaven, not about checking a bunch of boxes to ensure that politically you are on the “same side” as him, not about pointing the finger and waging political jihad against his “enemies.”
No, he’s the Christ of the cross. The Christ who loved the world – all of it and every person on its surface, not just some of them – enough to wipe the slate clean through his greatest act of love. The Christ who walks along side of us while we are still sinful people and helps us come after him.
I can’t find that Christ in Evangelicalism anymore. And that’s why I think I have to leave.