Post-Christian is a term that people now use to describe North American society. For decades now that has been a description of Western Europe, and now it’s settled into our country too. “Post: subsequent to; coming after” the dictionary says. So we use the term post-World War II to mean the era after the great war was over, post-operative for people whose surgeries are done, and post-graduate for when someone has completed their schooling. So what does it mean to be “post-Christian.” Is that supposed to mean Christianity is over?
Well for North-American Society as a whole, it means that our country’s pride in being a “Christian” nation has largely dissipated. Recent polls from the Barna group indicate that 46% of people in the U.S. now regard religion to be one of the causes of problems in our society, no longer a solution. You may have noticed that our culture is no longer taking its cues from Christian values and morality to determine what is appropriate and what is not, whether in the media, in schools, or in the halls of government. The Christian influence over society is waning, and the number of Americans living here in the US who are growing up with no connection or affiliation to Christianity is growing every year.
God’s call for us as the church hasn’t changed. Like Paul we still believe that, “one died for all and therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live might not longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) Therefore as it did for Paul, “the love of Christ compels us.” So what does it look like when people who Belong, Believe, and Bear Fruit in Jesus are compelled by Christ’s love? How can we change the tide of antagonism in our community toward the Christian faith.
Let’s ask Peter and John. In Acts chapter 3, Peter and John were just beginning the task of making disciples of Jesus and they were in a culture that was decidedly “post-Jesus.” It was pre-Christian, not even Peter and John were called Christian yet. That term for believers in Jesus is not used until Acts 11:26. Yet the people in Jerusalem were “post-Jesus.” They were done with him. They cried out, “crucify him, crucify him,” in Luke 23:21 and when he was dead they were sure that he was not coming back. Although the message of the disciples is, “What you thought was over, is just beginning.” Here’s how they said it, “know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)
Yet at the start of the very next chapter, Acts 3, we are told those “post-Jesus” people were “filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened.” So how did the first disciples take a city of people who were so done with Jesus and bring them closer to faith in him as the Christ?
It wasn’t them, at least not directly. It was a man who for all his life had been lame. He begged at the temple gate for money day after day. “Alms for the poor?” he’d ask passersby. As Peter and John walked past they both looked directly at him, the scripture says, and Peter said, “Silver and gold I have none, but what I have I give to you.” (Acts 3:6) Then Peter in the name of Jesus told him to stand, and he did. It was this man’s jumping, and leaping, and praising God in the name of Jesus that made the post-Jesus culture take note.
From the very beginning of the Christian witness, that’s how those who were post-Jesus, post-Christ, were brought closer to faith in him. In our post-Christian world our call is still the same. We look at the needs of the culture around us and what we have, we give. The most powerful witness in our culture is not what we say, but it’s what others say when they have been blessed by us in the name of Jesus.
The Holy Cross Board of Directors has been thinking of this in terms of our vision for this congregation for the next 5-7 years. How will we focus our ministry as we together Belong, Believe, and Bear Fruit in Jesus. If we take a cue from the first apostles we will be, “Leading with loving service to bring the greater Spokane community closer to Christ.” How does that sound as a vision for what God wants us to be?
Put that in your prayers, and we’d love to hear your thoughts at our congregational meeting on November 19. What kind of loving service are you leading with? How is it changing the cultural attitudes toward Jesus?
Forever in Christ,