After yesterday’s post, I thought it prudent to delve a little deeper into the issues surrounding faith and culture in our day and age. Specifically, I want to address the differences I see between a reactionary faith, and a proactive one.
C.S. Lewis (paraphrasing) once said that “the salvation of a single human soul is far more important than the preservation, or production, of all the works of drama/literature in human history.” In my estimation, this is very much in line with what Jesus said about leaving the ninety-and-nine to find the one. This is a kingdom value, and as such all the angels in Heaven rejoice over a lost soul that is found.
I think, however, that we in the church often get this quite wrong; in essence, we go after the ninety-and-nine–and consequently forget the one. Don’t get me wrong: there are indeed wrongs to be righted, injustices to be fought, inequities to redressed. That said, I think we often “do it wrong.”
What do I mean?
We go after the hot button issues–after the culture–and try to change them, change it. We forget that life change, that personal transformation, happens best in the context of a personal relationship. I don’t mean Jesus–I mean us. People won’t to meet him unless we are living winsome lives.
Yes, the trope is true: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
If you are concerned about our culture, about our society as a whole, start with your neighbor. To borrow a phrase from the “green” movement: “Think globally, act locally.” If you want to transform the culture, start with the people, start with a person. Pray that God gives you an opportunity to share your life with someone–warts and all–and in that context, share Jesus.
This is where, I think, organizations such as the American Family Association for instance, are missing it. There’s an agenda there, an axe to grind. It’s always coming out with an issue, or organization, that it’s against. On the one hand, I applaud the Wildmon’s for having the courage of their convictions. That’s altogether too rare these days. On the other, I think the Kingdom of God would be better served if folks knew just what, or Who, the AFA is for.
This to me is the difference between a reactionary faith, and a proactive one. Yes, I’m against sin–but I’m much more for Jesus–and I want you to meet him. Besides, who has been saved, had their life changed from the inside out, by a boycott?
Certainly, if we get a large enough group of believers together, we can impose our collective will on others. But that’s really just a mob mentality, and mere legalism. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from parenting, it’s that I can change my children’s behavior–without changing their hearts. Yes, rules and order, are important. But changed hearts even more so.
I learned something in Celebrate Recovery that transformed my thinking in these matters; namely, we “need to accept this sinful world as it is, as Jesus did, not as we would have it to be.” What this means is that we need to have reasonable expectations regarding the behavior of our unsaved family, friends, loved ones, coworkers. This means we can’t expect them to behave as Christians when they are not.
By extension, this means that it is also quite unreasonable to expect Christian demeanor from a post-Christian society. To do so is to engage in a dangerous “magical” kind of thinking.
Oh, sure, we can retreat into our holy huddles, where everything is serene and peachy keen–while the world goes to hell around us. That is nothing more than a “chrstian” RDF (“reality distortion field”). Remember: salt is well-nigh useless if it’s not sprinkled around.
You, me, I, we are that salt. Let’s not lose our savor by retreating from the world. We need to remain engaged, stay informed, and yet–in our hearts–“be in the world, but not of it.”
I’ll leave you with this:
People don’t want to be our axes for grinding, our grist, notches in our “witnessing belts.” They want to be loved as people. And it is in this context of love that we earn the right to share. Oh, as life does, it gets messy. Make no mistake. But life in this fallen world often does.
But it’s worth it in the end.
What do you think? How are you building relationships both within, and without, the church? Are you praying for opportunities to share?