October 18, 2007

It’s No Wonder (IV)

So far we've looked at the fact that most Christians don't have meaningful relationships with lost people. A significant result of that is that we are becoming less and less influential in the world around us. As we become less influential, the health and substance of the Christian church is under assault. As I wrap up this series, I want to address one final perspective related to all of this and it is:

Is it any wonder that we are being marginalized by the lost world and that their perceptions of us are becoming increasingly negative?

Check out this short article here by Time Magazine (HT: Scott Hodge) and then read this article from a San Antonio news site (HT: Mike Olmsted). Now let me start off by saying that I firmly believe the goal of Christianity is not to win a popularity contest. Our main objective is not to be elected homecoming queen in the United States. A faithful life, devoted to Jesus, and lived out in the public squares will most certainly draw persecution, rebuke, ridicule, and scorn from a good majority of people. That is promised to us by Jesus himself as it was the reward He himself was given for a lifetime of faithful, perfect love demonstrated to the world. We should never be "en vogue" as I think when that day arrives, you will be able to point to cornerstone pillars of Christian faith that we have tossed aside in order to be liked.

However, what these articles point out that is that we are being disliked, I believe, for the wrong reasons. More and more, Christianity is being pigeonholed as the "anti-gay", "anti-booze" faith. Our withdrawal from meaningful relationships with lost people has allowed us to retreat into our fortresses and begin hurling spears at those that stand outside the Christian castle. And more and more, we are becoming known for what we stand against than who we stand with. And this should not be the case.

Read 1 Peter 2:12 and really take that verse in. Peter exhorts us to keep our conduct honorable, and in so doing that when the world accuses us of evil, that we have behaved and done things in such a way that they will have no choice to see that we are not evil, but rather so amazing in our character and service that they glorify our God in heaven.

We will be hated for our stances on the moral issues of the day. We will be persecuted for our theological beliefs and the firmness of our convictions. We will be savaged for our immovable stance on human life, human conduct, and human standing before God. No doubt about that. But we are missing the other piece of this verse and that is our good deeds towards lost people. And it is hard to do good deeds for lost people when you don't know any. Jesus called us to engage the world and to be its servant. Throughout history, martyrs whose blood was spilled because of their beliefs were also immortalized in the annals of history for their service and love of their executioners.

So it should be with us. But we are not looking to serve the lost. We are looking to condemn them. We have taken up a firm position in the seat of the Pharisee's and stand as the world's judge. We stand far off from the lost because they may make us unclean. We have shunned them as our neighbor. We have wiped ourselves of their stench. And the longer we do that, the more we will be hated, but for all the wrong reasons.

Are you a Christian that someone might vehemently disagree with on the issues of the day but that same person who hates you for your beliefs would also cry if you left their life? How you answer that question will be very telling of the maturity of your faith and your walk with Jesus.

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