The Greek suffix phobia used to have the simple meaning of ‘irrational fear’, but it has been expanded in recent years to include ‘antipathy, disdain and intolerance toward some lifestyle or belief system’. By this new definition I would propose that we are rapidly becoming a nation of Christophobes.
My definition for Christophobe is simple; it is a person who is scared to death to encounter the risen Christ! The great theologian Karl Barth wrote that when a human being truly encounters the genuine Christ, the result is an absolute crisis in the human spirit. It is a crisis that demands a life-changing response: repent or run.
Human nature wants desperately to avoid this crisis. It wants to live life without ever actually encountering Christ – avoid the confrontation and you can elude the crisis. The chokehold of political correctness is a frantic avoidance strategy. Label all talk of Christ as intolerant and inappropriate in the public square and you might have the chance to live your entire life without coming face to face with the Lover of your soul.
Christophobes serve a role that is highly valued in our culture. They relieve the populace of the need to consider the importance of such a personal encounter. Comedians turn Christ and his followers into objects of derision. The media police keep all possibilities of an encounter from entering the public psyche (when was the last time you saw the joyful, gracious and transformational nature of the walk with Christ portrayed honestly through the character in a sitcom, TV drama or major motion picture?) As a society, as a culture, we are anesthetized against an encounter with Jesus Christ.
Then, suddenly, it pops up without warning. It may be as public as Tim Tebow on a knee or Jeremy Lin’s joy in giving God the glory. Or it might be as subtle as a scripture verse on an airline’s meal tray. But there it is, and for all our frantic policing, suddenly we have to deal with the reality of God and his love for us in Jesus Christ.
The result is a howl of protest. The rules have been broken, the sacred walls of indifference have been breached. For one small moment, God confronts us and we have to respond. ‘How dare they make us consider this!’ cry the Christophobes. ‘That is suppose to be kept private!’ they insist. How intolerant!
As followers of Jesus we are in the cultural battle of our lives. Christophobia is bringing us to a moment of truth for our nation. In the face of Christophobic hysteria, we are people called to bear witness to the One who comes to encounter every man, woman and child, that they might be overwhelmed with His love and find the rest for their souls in the arms of the One who created and loved them from the foundation of the world.
How will you confront it in your life today? More importantly, how will you bear witness to the truth?