Today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity. We cannot be complacent in these troubled times. As 21st century American Christ-followers, we cannot deny that we live in difficult times; times of great moral relativism, cultural decadence, spiritual apathy, and ecclesiastical lukewarmness. For many, the obituary of American Bible-believing, Christ-centered Christianity seems—for all practical purposes—written and poised to be published in the annals of history.
Yet, there exists one fundamental truth poised to thwart any and all premature burials of this powerful faith narrative: The gates of hell cannot, may not, shall not, will not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. I stand convicted and convinced that our Christian faith, our Judeo-Christian value system, will not only survive these troubled times, but, surprisingly, very well stand at the precipice of an awakening that will enable us to do nothing less than thrive.
While our Bible-based, Christ-centered values and mores face unprecedented challenges, the number one problem confronting the church in America may be nothing other than a church either willing to sacrifice truth on the altar of political expediency or unable to elevate corresponding truth with love.
In other words, the prophetic prescription for these pathetic times resides in the children of the cross committed to reconciling righteousness with justice, sanctification with service, holiness with humility, conviction with compassion, rhetoric with tone, and truth with love. This reconciliatory prescription stands captured in two simple yet life-changing words: Beautiful Orthodoxy.
What is Beautiful Orthodoxy? To me, it's best described as the nexus of the Christian message; the place where we reconcile the optic of redemption with the metric of reconciliation. In function, it serves to replace angry evangelicalism with a loving, grace-filled presentation of the gospel message. In form, it elevates the idea that Christianity is not about what we attempt to impose but rather what we propose: a personal relationship with God through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. In its essence, Beautiful Orthodoxy reminds us that Christianity stands measured not by the variable of rhetorical eloquence, but by the constant of loving actions.
In Matthew 5, our Lord and savior uttered a powerful declaration exhorting us to shine the light of this loving truth: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Beautiful Orthodoxy is the stand upon which we shine the light of the glorious truth of Christ. This Christ-rendered exhortation compels us to embrace the transcendent and transformational truth that we may have "light" but it may very well be hidden under the bowl of anger, complacency, apathy, and religious exuberance. Further, the implicit-yet-convicting narrative reveals that the "light" is only as good as it where it stands.
If we are to "be light" then we must remove all vestiges of contention, bitterness, apathy, complacency, and anger while we stand on his Word, projecting grace. We know this for certain: as we stand on love and elevate biblical truth, the beauty of Christ will shine—beauty incarnate indeed! Then and only then can we proceed, certain of the physically and spiritually undeniable fact that when light stands next to darkness, light always wins.
While religion requires us to get rid of darkness in order to prompt the light to shine, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus conveys the very opposite. Be light and darkness will flee. What do we call such a revelation? Beautiful Orthodoxy.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Hispanic Evangelical Association.