Stompin’ Tom Connors, a popular Canadian musician, died earlier this week. His style was not popular with everyone, but most Canadians know who he was, and the outpouring of sympathy was significant.
It was said of Stompin’ Tom that he made a point of writing songs about Canada and Canadians, and that in one sense, he gave us permission to celebrate being Canadian. Whether he was singing about “Bud the spud from the bright red mud” of Prince Edward Island, or “The good ol’ hockey game” that is so near and dear to our hearts, or the sundry things one could undertake “On a Sudbury Saturday night”, there was never any doubt that Stompin’ Tom Connors was Canadian and loved Canada. He may have been one of the first, perhaps alongside Gordon Lightfoot with his Canadian Railroad Trilogy, to open the floodgate of popular Canadian song.
Thanks to the likes of Stompin’ Tom, it became acceptable, and even popular, to sing the praises of Canada.
While it’s by no means unheard of to sing the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ, it can be seen as somewhat unpopular to do so, especially in a public forum – even in simple ways. I have twice heard Burton Cummings sing the national anthem at a public event, and both times he hummed through the part that says, “God keep our land glorious and free”. (He doesn’t have to believe in God if he doesn’t want to, but the national anthem is the national anthem. End of rant.) My point is that just as we are often reluctant to toot our own horn as Canadians, perhaps too, are we often reluctant to toot our own horn as followers of Christ.
Our open-minded society doesn’t want to offend, and there is a sense in which that is a good thing. However, “pluralism”, which is essentially Canada’s stand on religion, does not mean either (a) anything but Christian is okay, or (b) we must water down our proclamation to the point of meaninglessness. No, pluralism means that all religious traditions are to be treated with equal respect, and that each should be reviewed on its own merits. We do not ask a Hindu to water down her faith, nor a Muslim his – so why ask the Christian to do so?
In fact, it is mostly the ardent secularists who are asking Christians to water down their faith – not the adherents of other religious traditions. And along with the ardent secularists are some Christians who are afraid to offend. But you know what? We don’t need to be fearful. If anything, we need to be proud of the faith we profess, and not fear sharing it with others. Just like Stompin’ Tom, who proudly sang the praises of Canada and Canadians, we can proudly sing the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ, wearing our faith joyfully.
After all, the chances are good that your friends wonder about your walk with God. Why not tell them about it?
“[I]f someone asks you about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3.15b-16a, NLT).