YES, BUT HOW?

I was taken back last week by a comment on Facebook in response to an article someone else had posted. Giving his view as a Christian, he suggested we should “attack culture.” I noted “attack” was probably not the best choice of words and he blasted me making it clear culture wasn’t the only thing he was interested in attacking. How should we as Christians relate and speak to culture (or what we usually call “the world”)?

I’m pretty sure “attacking” will not do much to open doors or gain a hearing. I can’t imagine that the tactics of Westboro Baptist Church have resulted in welcoming many unbelievers into the body of Christ. Nor do I have a sense that protesting abortion by screaming “baby killer” leads to much reasoned discussion. Attacking and shouting the Gospel may make those who do it feel like they have stood up for Jesus, but I doubt the response is interest in hearing more about Him.

But to say we should not attack is not to imply we should remain silent. Christians are not called to just fit in and blur the distinction we have as followers of Jesus. Neither are we called to withdraw from the world. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus affirmed His followers were to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” In order to be salt and light we must be in our culture.

Our commitment to the Lord shows up in our words, actions, outlooks, and attitude. It’s this matter of attitude that got my attention last week. Through the years I have been embarrassed as a Christian by the attacking attitude expressed by some believers. But more than that, I am convinced they have done more harm than good for the cause. And I must confess that too many times in my life I have been guilty of displaying the wrong attitude to both unbelievers as well as believers.

I return often to a passage giving instruction about how we should talk with others about the Lord and our faith. In I Peter 3:15 the challenge is given to be ready to give an answer when given the opportunity to talk about our hope. Then the verse concludes, “But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV). The NLT renders it “in a respectful way” and the Message phrases it “with the utmost courtesy.” And the audience to whom I Peter was first written was to Christians living in a hostile environment.

I love the title and content of a book by Dallas Willard put together after his death by his daughter from his notes and lectures. The main title is powerful enough, “The Allure of Gentleness.” But the sub-title closes the deal for me: “Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus.” Remember Jesus said, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

Feel free to share this and/or leave a comment below.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/55497864@N00/2437697855″>Puissant</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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16 thoughts on “YES, BUT HOW?

  1. Jesus also said something that is even more difficult for most of to do. We are to love our enemies. In one of his recent morning radio programs, Skip Heitzig said that we need to look our enemies in the eyes and gently tell them that we will pray for them. He went on to say that it is difficult to hate someone that you are praying for on a regular basis.

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  2. I agree Bob. We are His hands and feet. We should do so as good examples. This is from a blog I read called the Reality Of Christ, Lisa Haven, “How to Give Rebuke”: When the apostle Paul wrote the book of Corinthians which is actually a letter of reproof to the Corinthian Church, he started it off with a message of hope and grace. “I give thanks to My God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” I Corinthians 1:4. This article as well as yours today Bob affirm that rebuke is a good thing as long it’s done in God’s way not our own. We don’t need to beat people over the head either. Thank you for this message and reminder.

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  3. This reminded me of a book I read a while back called “Culture Making” by Andy Crouch. But I agree that we as Christians should not “attack” culture, but this doesn’t mean we should just avoid culture and the world all together. Anyways, I, like a lot of other people, appreciate your wisdom and teaching. Thanks!

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  4. wow – you really hit the nail on the head Bob! There is so much emotional, irrational, unfruitful bashing of so many things I can hardly stand it! The only thing I can do is control my reaction to such things, both in private in public. AND to consider carefully before I respond…
    thanks Rabbi

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