It is not an easy thing to be an evangelical, conservative (oh, hey, let’s call it what it is — fundamentalist) Christian these days.
For one thing, I don’t think there’s a more misunderstood word, applied to matters of faith, than Fundamental(ist/m). The radical Islamic movement has had it applied to them, or has co-opted it. And for that matter, so have many who claim to be my co-religionists — but whom I wonder about, since their agenda doesn’t seem to be about loving, caring or saving souls, but to promote political agendas that don’t seem to have a lot to do with the faith we supposedly share.
What “fundamental” means to me is Jesus Unabridged. Fully Lord, fully God. Compassionate, wise, loving. Honest (how could He be otherwise?), which means that when He saw behavior He didn’t like, he called people on it. That’s loving, too. How loving is it to let people continue on in the wrong way and not try to direct them to the right way? Loving, also, to the point that He was willing to endure physical torture and the torture felt by the only One who could — separation from His Father, from whom He had never been separated, because he bore the sins that separated us, the sinners, so we didn’t have to be separated any more.
I don’t always succeed in sharing my faith as I ought. Too often, I am a coward, unable to speak out when it’s called for. And quite often, when I have given the courage to speak, I get what seems to be the (rare) unhostile reaction to faith in the 21st century, something along the lines of “Well, I’m glad you found something that works for you and good luck with that, but it’s not for me.” I hope I live my faith — I do my best to show other people Jesus that way, too — but even that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Today, I read a post by Canadian blogger David Kanigan. It contained a quote given to a writer named Victoria Safford, from her book “The Small Work in the Great Work”. Ms. Safford and I don’t see eye to eye on some things, but I loved this quote and it made me want to write this post:
“You know I cannot save them. I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do — what I am called to do — is to plant myself at the gates of Hope. Sometimes they come in; sometimes they walk by. But I stand there every day and I call out till my lungs are sore with calling, and beckon and urge them in  …”
This, in many ways, is true of me and of every other person who has accepted Jesus’ gift of eternal life. We cannot save anyone. That is not why God put us here — we are told that, especially by Paul, in I Corinthians 3:6-7:
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
We are here to serve and to plant and to water. It is God who saves.
So I stand — not at the gates of Hope, but on the way to Heaven. That is what *I* am called to do, as I walk along the way, knowing that those I would call out to may, like Ms. Safford’s friend’s patients, join me on the road or turn on their own way. I pray that nothing will stop me from calling out until my heart is sore with calling, as I beckon those that I love, and that God loves far more than I do, and urge them onto the narrow path. I especially pray that I will show a Christlike nature and not give anyway one any reason to say that I am a hypocrite, to let how I express my faith and live my life counter the words of my heart.
Sola Dei Gratia