I failed to stand up for my faith in the public square this week.
I was at an educator’s conference, sitting in a session about service learning, when the presenter asked the audience to share the mission of our institution and give an example of a community service activity supporting that mission. Immediately I wanted to share the mission statement of my Christian university, explicitly rooting the purpose of everything we do in the glory of God. What an opportunity to share about what Christianity is all about and give examples of what it looks like in every day life!
But while I was formulating my answer, someone several rows behind me jumped to his feet and began talking in a husky, affected voice. He explained that he was from a design school with a mission statement organized around the concept of “public good.” He began giving examples of how that was achieved through events celebrating diversity and helping raise awareness for AIDS victims.
I became increasingly uncomfortable as people around me began nodding and murmuring in approval. When he finished and sat down, the speaker gave him her resounding adulation. I cleared my throat and found that I suddenly couldn’t seem to find my voice. I worried that if I spoke up, I wouldn’t be able to give an example nearly as upbeat and polished. I was afraid that the audience would find me unattractive, stiff, and boring in comparison.
So I sat quietly and said nothing.
And there, my friends, is a microcosm of Christian failure in the public square. If we speak at all, we seem almost apologetic regarding what we believe. We repackage it in a desperate attempt to appear trendy and cool. We have failed to stand up and testify for truth clearly, unashamedly, authentically, and enthusiastically. And we will soon find that we cannot stand up at all, or if we do, we will face severe consequences.
Before that happens, I want another chance to stand for Christ. Will you stand with me?