Why are we, as Christians, so afraid to share our convictions? Maybe it’s the desire to be liked. Maybe it’s our desire to not unnecessarily alienate people. Maybe we don’t want to appear judgmental. Maybe we would rather discuss certain topics face to face. Maybe we want to be perceived as humble and approachable. Some of these are worthwhile considerations. But none are legitimate reasons to keep quiet about our convictions.
Not everyone is going to like us. We will always alienate those unwilling to hear the other side. Society sees the belief in moral absolutes as judgmental. Sometimes you can’t wait to make a statement in person. Humility means we think about how to best articulate our convictions not that we refuse to share them. Reasonable people understand that not everyone views the world the same way. They are fine with those who have different convictions. They just want to know that we don’t consider ourselves inherently superior to them. That’s fair because we aren’t any better. All have sinned, all have fallen short of His glory, and all are in need of a Savior. And that’s all the more reason to boldly share our convictions.
Recently it was announced that more and more people in America are identifying themselves as non-religious. Many of these people formerly identified themselves as Christians. This is fantastic news for churches and for Christianity as a whole. Not only do we have a more accurate picture of who is actually a believer, we have a better opportunity to reach these people than we did before.
The hardest people to reach are the religious and nominally committed. They think birth, upbringing, or religious activity count for something before God. Perhaps their willingness to move away from that mindset will actually be the thing that enables them to see their need for repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Being honest and real about who we are is an important value in our culture and rightfully so. No one likes a fake. But if you are a Christian – especially a Christian leader – then please, manage your image. Your online image that is. By all means be honest. But that might mean saying nothing at all.
Don’t belittle people on social media. Don’t spread gossip. Don’t engage in senseless debate. Don’t provoke people unnecessarily. Don’t reinforce people’s stereotypes of Christians. Basically, don’t be a jerk. What you say online lives forever.
In an effort to convince people that Christianity is worth embracing, there is a natural tendency to soften and diminish the culturally unpopular aspects of our faith. Many of the people who do this mean well. But the more palatable we make Christianity, the more powerless it becomes. If everyone and everything is morally acceptable, then who needs a Savior?
Two thousand years of church history show that when culture redefines Christianity, the church loses its leverage and influence. Instead of lowering the standard, let’s speak the truth in love. Let’s invite people to embrace and rejoice in the grace made available to them through Jesus Christ, a grace that is greater than all our sin.
I recently read a blog that said “regular” church attendance in today’s culture might be twice a month. My experience tells me that statement is true. What an indictment against Christianity in America. Nowhere is the consumeristic attitudes amongst American Christians seen more than in their casual attitude toward church attendance.
Of course it’s not just the people who are to blame. Church leaders are equally culpable. We have created churches that cater to and are made for consumers. The better the product (i.e., programs and services) the more people who are willing to consume it. The time has come to revive the notion that church is a people and not a place.
Recently at work, I overheard a co-worker say, “Their family is very strict from a religious standpoint. Their daughter lived at home until her wedding night.” If not co-habitating before marriage makes you “very strict” on the religious front, then I guess I fall into the same category (for the sake of argument, I’m seeing religion as a positive thing). So do a lot of my friends. My co-workers statement struck me in two ways.
One, there was an implication that being religious (i.e., Christian) does not require you to live any different from the rest of the world. Only the strict live radically different. What a sad statement about American Christianity. Two, those of us who live out biblical values will continue to find ourselves increasingly at odds with the culture around us. Soon, we will stand out without even trying to do so. That’s a good thing. It will be an opportunity for us to show the world that God’s ways are best – provided we show that through humility and grace and not through condescending, judgmental attitudes.