I’m old enough to remember when stores were closed on Sunday because everyone went to church, or knew they should. No one would have considered scheduling a soccer practice on Sunday. Billy Graham was America’s “most admired” person.
When researchers began collecting data back in the 1930s on the number of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated, around five percent fit the category. The number rose to only eight percent by 1990. Today it has skyrocketed to 20 percent or more, including a third or more U.S. adults under the age of 30.
A chief contributor is the popular identification of Christianity with cultural conservatism. As a result, more than 40 percent of liberals say they have no religion. And many who do keep their faith quiet.
Now meet Ana Marie Cox. A one-time contributing editor to Playboy, she is the Washington correspondent for GQ and blogs on U.S. politics for The Guardian. She calls herself a “progressive, feminist, tattooed, pro-choice, graduate-educated believer.” Note the last word.
Her recent blog for the Daily Beast broke the news: “Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian.” Ana is emphatic: “To be clear, I don’t just believe in God. I am a Christian.” She adds that “decades of mass culture New Ageism has fluffed up ‘belief in God’ into a spiritual buffet, a holy catch-all for those who want to cover all the numbers. . . . Me, I’m going all in with Jesus.”
What led her to him? She explains: “One of the most painful and reoccurring stumbling blocks in my journey is my inability to accept that I am completely whole and loved by God without doing anything. That’s accompanied by a corresponding truth: There is nothing so great I can do to make God love me more.
“Because before I found God, I had an unconsciously manufactured higher power: I spent a lifetime trying to earn extra credit from some imaginary teacher, grade-grubbing under the delusion that my continued mistakes—missed assignments, cheating, other nameless sins—were constantly held against me.”
Most of us can sympathize with her. What is the answer? “What Christ teaches me, if I let myself be taught, is that there is only one kind of judgment that matters. I am saved not because of who I am or what I have done (or didn’t do), but simply because I have accepted the infinite grace that was always offered to me.”
No matter who we are or where we’ve been, grace is still amazing. (Tweet this) Where do you need God’s transforming grace today? Who will find such grace in you?