By Bill Webb
Have you noticed a burgeoning phenomena I refer to as "Woe is me! I'm a Christian" in some circles of believers across America?
This phenomena plays itself out this way: "Society has a chip on its shoulder for Christians, especially Christians like me. Everywhere I turn, the world makes fun of us. They laugh at our values and jeer when we criticize conflicting values in culture. Lord, I'm not quite sure how long I can stand these attacks. It sure is hard being persecuted for my faith and the Christian stands I take."
To be sure, it is difficult for any person to believe strongly about something -- especially issues informed by his faith -- and to find that others challenge or disagree with those beliefs. Even Christians sometimes take issue with what other Christians believe, the decisions they make and the actions they take. Understandably, that can be difficult for us.
It is easy for Christians to become inflicted by this Woe-Is-Me Syndrome. We actually see and hear it played out in secular culture 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Turn the radio dial or flip a TV channel and you will likely hear a political talk-show host lament he or she is constantly being targeted by a political party or some political action group. The reason for the unwarranted "attacks": The host holds fervently to a particular position that is just not shared by his or her "enemies."
The host may be a member of the far right or the far left. It doesn't seem to matter. These media pundits don't talk issues very long before they break out into criticisms of each other. The tact: "Woe is me. I'm under attack by my peers and other operatives. And all because I'm right about this issue."
This entertainment fare is compelling today -- check out the ratings -- and it may inform Christian behavior more than we like to admit. Many like to identify with personalities like these, especially if they share our own opinions and frustrations. But Christians need to stop short of all-out imitation.
The "Woe is me! I'm a Christian" philosophy isn't something to seek. It does not reflect well on our faith or on the One who is the object of our faith. This philosophy is based on several false assumptions:
False assumption No. 1: It's all about me. It's not. The Christian is cognizant that he serves the object of his spiritual affection. A popular chorus reminds us that "It's all about you, Lord," but that's a hard lesson to learn. Self-centered is the way we start life, and that's the way many come to the end of life.
False assumption No. 2: Disagreement constitutes attack. The wise person makes a distinction between being disagreed with and being attacked. In doing so, he places himself in a position to learn something and creates opportunities to help others. If most of us were honest with God and ourselves, we would admit that our faithfulness is limited enough that we are not likely under constant attack from others because of our deep faith. Sometimes we need to lighten up.
False assumption No. 3: When someone takes issue with me, it is tantamount to an attack on God! "Don't worry," some have said, "if you're doing God's will, people are not mad at you, they're upset with God." Being in God's will is something we seek, not something we can routinely claim. God does not always agree with everything we say or do.
False assumption No. 4: Every Christian faces persecution. Some Christians use the term persecution loosely. and they dishonor those who truly are persecuted for their faith. Missiologists say persecution unto death among Christians is rampant in many parts of the world. For most of us to claim to be persecuted Christians is to dishonor the faith sacrifices of people like these and of Christ Himself.
We are hardly victims but among all people the most blessed. Being whiney, wimpy Christians is not a real option.