Diminishing Christians and the Baker's Dilemma
A recent Pew Research Center poll revealed declining numbers of Christians in America. Church leaders are scrambling to explain why. I have an idea. Maybe it’s because of people like me who have struggled with the whole Christian “love” thing. Jesus told his followers, “Love others as you love yourself.”
Loving those who think like I do is easy, but loving people of different faiths, or no faith, while living in the midst of our rapidly diversifying culture, that’s been harder.
But God hasn’t changed his mind on the love commandment. As a blogger, I’ve been caught in the crossfire between some hard-line atheists and brutally dogmatic Christians. I can almost imagine Jesus shaking his head as judgmental words flew back and forth.
We Christians need to consider how we’re going to relate in a post-Christian nation.
Will judgment or love increase our Christian numbers?
Which leads me to an editor’s soul-searching assignment. The directions:
You’re a Christian baker and have been asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Respond to the couple in the form of a question Jesus may have asked and then give your explanation as to why you’ll either bake or not bake them a wedding cake.
The assignment is hard. Here’s my letter (after numerous flawed attempts and recapitulations).
You’ve been coming to my bakery since I opened ten years ago. Besides knowing your favorite treats, I’ve met your folks, learned about your job changes, and moving to the condo downtown. Maybe you think of me as the old baker, but I’d like to consider myself your friend.
When you came in to ask about a special cake for your wedding celebration, I already knew that you two were in love. Even though we never talked about your relationship status, I could see your commitment to one another.
While I wonder what others might think if I bake a cake for a same-sex marriage, I shouldn’t worry about them, I should only worry about what God thinks.
Could I ask you a question? How would Jesus want me to show my love to you?
I asked myself that same question and then I studied how Jesus loved.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for you both. You’ve faced your share of abuse and discrimination—often from people who love God. That’s when I knew how I could show my love to you. I could bake you the perfect wedding cake. While I might not understand your marriage, I want to love like Jesus asked me to.
In the years ahead, I hope that you’ll keep coming to my bakery—for your favorite treats and to hopefully see Jesus lived out in my life. Jesus didn’t support abuse. It was his love that changed lives. And I want to love you both—just as Jesus does.
Your Baker Friend
Would you bake a cake or not?
God knows how our nation is changing. The question is whether we can love like Jesus in the midst of it.