Jul1SatJuly 1, 2017
Happy Canada Day! It has been 150 years since the British North America Act (Constitution Acts, as it’s now known) was passed and the Dominion of Canada became a sovereign nation in the British Commonwealth. How different Canada now looks than it did on that first day, July 1, 1867! In 150 years since confederation, Canada has grown from having four provinces to ten provinces and three territories. We have been through World Wars I & II and the Great Depression. Women, and Aboriginal peoples have gained the right to vote. We have faced the inner conflicts of The Quiet Revolution of the 1960s and the October Crisis (1970), followed by the referendums of the 1980s and 1990s. We became the first nation of the world to officially adopt the policy of multiculturalism (1971). We have gained a constitution with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982). More could be said about the history of our nation, residential schools, the war in Afghanistan, the creation of the NHL, the dawn of the information age. Each of these events in history have shaped our national identity and culture, for better or for worse. It defines what it means to be Canadian.
Through all of this, Canadians have sung a prayer to God, “God keep our land glorious and free.” And many of us have celebrated that everything good about our nation does indeed come as a gift from God. But the number who do so has decreased. Once Canadians largely believed in the God of the Bible and agreed that we should follow God’s commands (whether or not they understood the gospel of Jesus may be another question). This is no longer true of us. Those who identify as Christians still make up a large demographic of the population, but the number is decreasing. And of those who do identify as Christians, fewer and fewer hold to the teachings of the Bible.
In 2013, a prominent political leader publicly called evangelical Christians un-Canadian. While many expressed shock at this statement, it does reflect a growing hostility towards the values and worldview that is expressed in God’s Word, and towards those who seek to live according to those values and worldview. Many of us have experienced this firsthand, as we have tried to talk about our faith with friends, neighbours, co-workers, and schoolmates. Being a Christian in Canada is hard in 2017. And that’s okay.
Historically, the church of Jesus Christ has always been much most effective when it operated from the margins of society. The further culture moves from God’s standards, the more Christians will stand out. And when we do, we will face hardship, rejection, persecution, suffering. It’s in these times when we look most like Jesus, and when we look most like Jesus, God is honoured and His gospel is showcased powerfully through our lives. First Peter 2:11-12 puts it this way,
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
This is what we are called to as Christians. God is still sovereign over our home and native (or adopted) land. And in the end, this land isn’t our true home. We are strangers here, citizens of another country, waiting to be rescued by our Heavenly King. We wait for His return, when the heavens and the earth, will be made new and redeemed. In the mean while, we show the world around us who this King is through our lives and our words, trusting that He use the testimony of our faithful lives to convince some unbelievers of the truth of the gospel. And they will join us as strangers in this present world who will glorify God when Christ our King returns.