There’s No Way SHE Is A Christian! No Way. Maybe Way? Another Story Of God’s Amazing Grace.

ann-marie-coxI admit that, although I know better, I still fall into the trap of thinking that some people are more (or less) likely to become Christians than other people. So when I saw “Why I Am Coming Out as a Christian” by Ana Marie Cox in The Daily Beast, I was more than a little suspicious. Was it a hit piece on Christianity? Or was she going to talk about Christianity in a way that neutered it of any real meaning making it into something that Jesus and the apostles wouldn’t recognize and wouldn’t offend modern secular sensitivities?

I became familiar with Ms. Cox several years ago when I watched podcasts of the The Rachel Maddow Show. She was one of several guests who would appear periodically to dialogue with the host about politics. Both Ana Marie Cox and Rachel Maddow were smart, interesting, and politically and socially liberal. I like to take in a variety of political viewpoints and given that the show was on MSNBC and both her and Rachel Maddow were former radio hosts with Air America, I knew what to expect from them. Rarely did they disappoint. Whether the topic was abortion, homosexuality, or religion in the public sphere Ms. Cox took positions that, in my mind, ran counter to the Bible. She came across to me as no friend of Christianity. But don’t misunderstand: I was always interested in hearing her express her opinions.

So when I saw her article about being a Christian, I thought “Yeah, right. I’m sure that this piece ends up making Christians look bad.” But then I read it and was surprised (and wrong).

“Here is why I believe I am a Christian: I believe I have a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I believe in the grace offered by the Resurrection. I believe that whatever spiritual rewards I may reap come directly from trying to live the example set by Christ. Whether or not I succeed in living up to that example is primarily between Him and me.

My understanding of Christianity is that it doesn’t require me to prove my faith to anyone on this plane of existence. It is about a direct relationship with the divine and freely offered salvation. That’s one of the reasons that when my generic “There must be something out there” gut feeling blossomed into a desire for a personal connection to that “something,” it was Christianity that I choose to explore. They’ll let anyone in.

To be clear, I don’t just believe in God. I am a Christian. 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: Pascal’s wager as a roulette wheel and not a coin toss. Me, I’m going all in with Jesus. It’s not just that the payoff could be tremendous—it already has been! The only cost is the judgment that comes from others, from telling people that my belief has a specific shape, with its own human legacy of both shame and triumph.”

And then a little later in the article…

“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 continuing mistakes—missed assignments, cheating, other nameless sins—were constantly held against me.

And I knew in my heart that failure was inevitable.

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.”

I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty genuine and as a description of the Christian gospel pretty spot on. And then I came across this clip from the show Morning Joe in which again Ana Marie Cox speaks substantively and accurately about Christianity.

4 Ways This Story Challenges Me

1. God changing Ana Marie Cox’s heart is no more of a miracle than him changing my heart, your heart, or anyone else’s heart. God loves to draw people who are far from him into a relationship. That was true of the Ninevites and King Manasseh in the Old Testament and Nicodemus and the apostle Paul in the New Testament. And that’s great news for us because all of us are far from God. In fact no one is closer to God in that they are less sinful or less in need of a Savior.

2. I have no idea when Ana Marie Cox became a Christian but there are a few hints in the article and interview that lead me to believe that it was relatively recently. Am I willing to give people lots of time and grace to change their mind on issues that they’ve held for a number of years? I should be because after being a Christian for 27 years I’m still in process of learning and growing. But for some reason it’s easy for me to demand instant change from people when I don’t (and more importantly Jesus doesn’t) demand it from myself.

3. But what if she remains politically right where she is now? I’m not referring to her identifying more with Democrats than Republicans. That’s not an issue at all to me. But what if she remains ardently pro-choice? What if she stays committed to same sex marriage even though I am pretty sure that is at odds with what the Bible teaches? Do I believe that people can be genuine Christians and hold to those views? Is a person saved by grace through faith in Christ or by their right answers to social issues?

4. Have I written off people that God hasn’t? If you would’ve asked me if Ana Marie Cox could become a Christian, I would’ve said “Theoretically yes but you know that’s not going to happen.” That’s stupid. It shows that I have forgotten God’s inexhaustible love for sinners, his resurrection power, and somehow managed to think that I was better or more open or more deserving or more ______ than someone else. Forgive me, Lord.

One Comment

  1. Lisa Eaton said:

    Keith-I really love your perspective and transparency! Thank you for challenging us to a deeper and more real faith in our relationships with others.

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