Only Christians who are willing to suffer for their beliefs will be resilient enough to the spirit of this century. It is very unfortunate that many people with conservative beliefs are unwilling to speak up for fear of their position and interests. Jesus is much admired, but unfortunately too little imitated in practice. Today’s western cultural Christianity honours him with its lips, but few are willing to suffer for him.
These are words from a conversation with Rod Dreher, a conservative journalist who is currently visiting the Netherlands. Rod has built an audience as editor of The Conservative American and claimed fame in Christian circles for such books as The Benedict Option and Don’t Live by Lies. In the first book he argues for greater sanctification of life as believers and church community, as well as isolation from the world and a critical approach to the culture of our time. In the second book, he warns against ‘woke’ activism (pro-gender ideology) that has started to determine political and social developments in the west, especially since 2015. Both books remain true: without developing commitment Christians won’t be resilient in this world.
According to Dreher, American Christian youth in particular seem to have become a willful prey to this ideology that has been prepared for years by a woke education system and poor catechising. Youth entering college have had little doctrinal and ethical instruction from the Bible in church and at home. “At many megachurches people are taught to feel good about themselves and Jesus. Jesus loves you and so do we. It doesn’t go much deeper. When confronted with the new ideology, they have no response to accusations of transgender- and gay hatred, or so-called racism. Someone who has not learned much more than that Jesus is love and loves you, whatever you do, will not stand.” These are also words that ressonate with Christians in the Netherlands. Brakel’s Reasonable Religion already taught us that faith requires obedience and exercise, both of the mind and of the body.
Rod Dreher also advocates this. God asks that we turn love for Him into action and commitment. Love is more than a feeling. It has to take shape. According to Dreher, Christian youth in America lacks spiritual discipline. We must train our minds to examine what the Lord’s will is and train our bodies in obedience. All life must be subject to the rule of Christ. That includes taking up our cross and following Him.
Believing includes self-denial
Those who really believe are willing to suffer for their convictions. Also here in the Netherlands, many conservative Christians often think primarily in terms of materialism, career, influence and position. Are we willing to suffer for the sake of the righteousness and truth of God’s Word? This conviction and testimoney in the world is enabled by withdrawal into the inner room, to seek communion with God and fellowship with the Church of all times and places; and from there to speak and work in the world. Otherwise we lose our salt and our witness will become compromised.
Like Christianity in America has become to a large extent, Dreher cautions. “Half a century ago we saw ourselves as a beautiful city on a mountain. Now we have become Babylon.” Whoever loses sight of God’s truth, will lose track. Therefore, especially in our time, when there is such confusion that children learn in school that men can be women and vice versa, it is important to remind society that truth actually exist. Our current situation sometimes makes for strange allies. Several prominent critics of the ‘woke’ policy are practicing homosexuality. Rod Dreher personally doesn’t mind having such allies. After all, the common enemy of an intolerant and crazy society, in which even gender no longer counts, is much more dangerous. According to Dreher atheistic transhumanism, where man himself plays god over life, is imminent and a far greater danger than ‘strange bedfellows’. People like the British Douglas Murray (bestselling author, political commentator and columnist, calls himself an atheist, is a practicing homosexual, critical of gender ideology, among other things) at least open their mouths, while so many unconvincing Christians are silent and wishfully think that the crazy ideologies will just leave on their own accord. While they do nothing.
Let’s pray and work in the footsteps of the Benedictines—which Dreher advocates in “The Benedict Option.” Ora et labora, while it is day. Read more at Bible Counsel.