I’ll be honest. This post has been in the three sentence phase for days. I suppose one could say the word “Evangelical” was tagged to my name all those years ago when I was thirteen years old. I was just a kid who had a pastor come share the steps to salvation and I said, sure. (I can honestly say that I don’t think I had a clue what I had done until about the age of twenty-I can assure you 17-20 did not show evidence of it.) Even now, there are days I feel as if it’s all brand new and I’m just seeing things for the first time…maybe that’s a good thing. I think it is. That whole, “childlike faith.” I most certainly don’t feel qualified to preach to another person about my righteousness…if anything I want to tell them about my brokenness, my pitiful attempt to work to be more like Christ each day…and all the days as I crawl into bed and go, “well, that didn’t go so well.” My take on the whole Gospel, is the later is exactly what Christ intended me to do. To show all of that and temper it with the hope of Christ and the knowing the tomb is empty, my debt is paid. That whole, be a decent human being while you are here on Earth-spread the news and make disciples of men, even if you fall down all the time-your trust is in Jesus and He has covered all of your inequities. (Trust me…that’s a very large blanket in my case!)
So, I’m at Evangelical-4.1. This conversation that has played out in my head countless times over the past several months has forced me to just evaluate what that tag to my name really is and is it something I even desire to be tagged with. (Ok, before you go getting all “oh my goodness, Kim is renouncing Christ”…I’m not, if anything I like to think of it as a reset on what this whole gig of being a Christ Follower is meant to be.)
We will have to get a little political in order for this conversation to make any sense. Maybe even a little into the pulpit. Be patient….I promise you will get to read the deepest thoughts of this little girl heart. (You can skip this part, but I can’t promise the rest will make any sense whatsoever.)
I grew up as a SBC girl (Southern Baptist). I cannot recall a time where the pulpit didn’t come out and say “Christian, vote this way.” I grew up with all of the bells and whistles that came with the “Christian Right” movement. The problem has always been, for me, I didn’t quiet agree with it’s mission. Trust me, if you live in the south….this conflict is a very big deal…or at least it was in my heart. Just seemed less about Jesus and more about man’s desires. Then, God moved me out of the comforts of my SBC life and into a world where I am tossed into a conglomeration of believers of such varied backgrounds-forced to sit down and go ok..what’s the commonality amongst those in the church (hint-following Jesus, that personal relationship). Tossed into a congregation of folks that well…a lot just don’t look like me at all. Then came 2016. Then came Evangelical being so much less than what it had meant to me. Leaders of the faith coming out and saying the moral thing is to vote for an amoral person and stating the other candidate is the Devil. To me, Evangelical has seemingly become a political movement-a political agenda. Now…back to the conversation.
Ok…so now you are at where I was for a while trying to grasp this whole Evangelical thing and if it even stood for where I was with Christ and what I felt Christ wanted from my life. In our move, I wanted so desperatly to find what I had in church growing up in the south-I have been able to sit in some fabulous churches filled with amazing people. I was focused on nothing less. Four churches. Three of which just missed something and while I wish I could quantify that with a statement of what…I can’t. All I can say is that God didn’t want me there. So, we are at church number four and it’s as if the lightbulbs have all gone off and God is saying…”Kim…this is part of the reason you are here. You need to see through my eyes..not your own…not the world’s.” “Kim, trust me.”
Kim is now in a large…I mean HUGE church. Yet, each time I go, it feels smaller than even my smaller churches in my past did. No, I would guess no one knows I am there right now as we haven’t plugged in yet. With that said, I know God is there and I’m there and that’s all I need. Even at the other three churches, except for one sermon at church A, it’s always been about Jesus and his commands, his agenda…never about a human agenda. What my role is as a Christ Follower…how that is to play out in my life…and what that means to those around me and to those I’ve never met. God knew I needed this and He sat me right down in the middle of it. All the talk of the southern Bible-Belt and well…Chicago-who knew!.
So, Evangelical-4.1 . I suppose by now you are wondering what in the world I’m rambling about. First, did you know in the entire world, only 4.1% of the population is Evangelical? That means over 95% of folks aren’t. Evangelicals comprise around 13% of the Christian population. That means, 87% of Christians aren’t Evangelicals. The U.S. has the largest population of Evangelicals. A Pew study shows 28% of the U.S. is Evangelical. That means 72% of the U.S population is not. 80ish% of the U.S. will identify as a Christian. 31% of the world identifies as Christian. This all made me just stop and go..ok….80% of the U.S. identifies as Christian but only 28% identify as Evangelical. Is it that the other groups don’t believe Christ is the Son of God, risen on the third day? The one true King? What is “Evangelical” in America? Is it a “Jesus” movement or a movement with a political agenda? Are those two mutually exclusive? Should they be combined? Biblically, what’s that answer.
Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
31% of the world identifies as Christian. Even if you don’t just count those who identify as Evangelical, we are clearly the minority-just as the Bible said we would be. Across the world…Christians are being persecuted. Russia has now outlawed evangelizing outside of church-all of which the Bible foretold.Then you see stories where Nepal has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. Areas of the world where people, like you and me, have taken the part of “Go” and have gone. Not to spread the good news of politics or why this sin or that sin is greater than another…but to spread the good news of Jesus, His hope, His love and His desire for your life. If you look at US numbers, if 80% identify as Christian, then why all this back and forth over liberal, conservative…when clearly we have more in common with Christ’s calling for us than anything else. 80% of us are on the same page with Christ-shouldn’t that be our focus?.
I’m sure by now some of the readers of this little blog are about to blow a gasket and will certainly send me private messages correcting my thoughts and certainly what’s to follow. That’s ok.
I ramble on and on with all of this to get to the point of all of this. I sat last night and just took in the Case for Christ and how His love never fails…How He is always there, He never leaves our side…and just kept thinking…”Man, I wish my friends who for whatever the reason have written off Christ, stopped attending church or my friends who are watching the words that “Christians” are saying that are anything but showing of Christ…I wish they could be here tonight. I wish they could see what this whole Jesus thing is….and what it’s not.” And then….with confirmation with that whole peace thing..I realized…this chick is taking off the American “Evangelical” tag and putting on “Christ Follower.” Answer, Follow, Go. Evangelical isn’t a Biblical term..it’s manmade. Christ Follower….that’s Jesus’ tag for me…and loved…so very loved and forgiven.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
I close with this….80% of the US identifies as Christian. If true, we should all be on the same page…and that’s the page where we are told to answer, follow and go. I know God has revealed to me that I have fallen way short on the Go part….and that I need to stop and view the world and its events through His eyes and not my own. Change begins from the bottom up…while looking up.
Oh, I have political views…that’s for certain…and they likely aren’t the views of many of my followers (According to what I am certain is an accurate scientific quiz on Facebook, I don’t)..and that’s ok…because as I said…80% of us are on the same page with Jesus …and that means we all agree that Christ wins…we know the ending of this story….a broken world, with broken people all just working each day to be a little more like Christ and on most days…falling shorter than we had hoped as I crawled out of bed. Knowing we all get the exact same amount of Christ-all of Him. He doesn’t hold out pieces….you get all of Him. By grace and not by works.
One note of importance…none of this mitigates the love I have for every church I have attended in my life. I have been fortunate to be in Bible believing, Bible teaching churches and surrounded by some of the most Godly men and women you could ever ask for.
So, peace out for today….this “Christ Follower” has some work to do!
(PS-I’m quiet certain this post could land me on some prayer lists….I assure you that I love my Jesus just as much today as yesterday, hopefully more and that if my life doesn’t represent what he told his disciples were his two greatest commands…well…I’ve fallen and I need to get back up and try again…and again..and again. )