Christianity’s Biggest Mistake? (Caution: This May Step On Your Toes.)
NOTE: I’m not a debater. I’m much more of a motivator. So this post has been difficult for me to write. (It took me two days to write it.) And I pray that my readers take it in the way it is written–with utmost love for and sensitivity toward each of you. Having said that, I realize that being an effective motivator sometimes involves bringing up the obvious and dealing with it–even if the obvious is difficult or painful.
So, here we go…
I’ve been teaching my Inspiring Evangelism course at a church in west Houston. (Wonderful people are at BridgePoint Bible Church!) Last Wednesday night we discussed a difficult subject. We realized there is a big mistake taking place among the Christian world–at least in America. Our big mistake is that we have adopted a we vs. them mentality of us and the world. Battle lines have been drawn between the Christian world and the rest of the world.
We, Christians, do not shy away from the fight. We hang on to 2 Timothy 4:7 where Paul said he “fought the good fight.” Yet we have taken that to mean something different than what Paul meant.
And so we fight for our rights in America.
We fight for better politics.
We fight for conservatism. Or liberalism. (Which ever is appropriate for you.)
We fight for the most correct theology. And we’re even willing to fight each other over many of these things.
We fight for our Christian world. And we should strive toward excellence in these areas. I don’t disregard these.
However, in doing so, we end up fighting the non-Christian person when we should be fighting for him.
How have we come to this?
One way is that we tend to limit our daily dealings to Christian-only businesses and organizations. We take our business and dealings to those who post the fish symbol on their web-page. Many Christians tend to avoid businesses that are owned by a people of other faiths–boycotting them because of it.
Another way is that we do not wish to look like the world so much so that we have separated ourselves from it. We have built a wall of “protection” around ourselves. This wall keeps out anyone who does not share, not only our faith, but also our opinions, gestures, styles, speech, preferences, and worldviews. And we have justified this as our act of being holy.
We have failed to see that Jesus suffered outside the camp (outside the wall of protection) where the hurting, despised, and lost people live. We have failed to undertake the responsibility of suffering with Him outside the camp (see yesterday’s post on this).
So we have left the world to itself. To fend for itself. We have told ourselves that the world has gone so far into chaos that the Church must separate and keep to ourselves.
Oh how we have missed God’s mark!
So last Wednesday night our class took a good, hard look at the Apostle Paul’s writings in 1 Thessalonians 2. I, for one, am convicted when I read of Paul’s compassion for the non-Christian. Check it out:
7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
We must bring up the obvious and deal with it:
1. Do I act gently toward non-Christians?
2. Do I cherish them as a mother cherishes her own children?
3. Do I feel affectionate toward them?
4. Am I eager to, not only impart the gospel of God, but to sacrifice my own life for them?
5. Are non-Christians dear to me?
6. Do I desire to labor and toil for them and not be a burden to them?
Tough questions to answer? Perhaps not, if we’re honest with ourselves.
Before He was arrested, Jesus did NOT say to His disciples, “They will know you are My disciples by your separation from them, and your holiness apart from them, and your logic and reason against them, and how you will fight for your opinions to be heard.”
He did say, “They will know you are My disciples if you have love…”
If we truly believe that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead, and that believing in Him alone gives us everlasting life–then shouldn’t we be eager enough and loving enough to live out this good news to non-Christians around us?
After all, God has entrusted us with His gospel to bring to the lost (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
How will we love them if we do not know them? How will we know them if we are not friends with them? And how will we become friends with them if we hold on to this mentality of we vs. them?
A mentor of mine once said, “We can give without caring, but we cannot care without giving.”
It’s time to let our love wash out the line drawn in the sand.
Questions? Comments? For the edification of the Church, feel free to reply with your thoughts.
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