To be completely transparent, I’m not writing about gender identity, not really at least. I’m also not talking about the Affordable Care Act, the Alt-right, the radical left, Confederate/John A. McDonald memorials, DACA, Dreamers, Immigration, the Environmental Protection Agency, Betsy DeVos, Supreme Court judge appointments, Gerrymandering, or the US mid-term elections.
I’m not talking about Hate speech, Health insurance, Single-payer healthcare, Fracking, Legalizing marijuana, the racism of the word “marijuana” itself over “cannabis”, Mass shootings, gun control, police brutality, taking a knee, white nationalism, or institutional racism.
I’m not going to mention the Me Too movement, toxic masculinity, toxic femininity, workplace sexual mores, the patriarchy, white privilege, black lives matter, racial profiling, rape culture, virtue signalling or victim blaming.
Nor will I discuss the minimum wage, income inequality, Net neutrality, Political activism, affirmative action, artificial intelligence, assisted suicide, capital punishment, forced sterilization, Censorship, climate change, factory farming, genetic engineering, abortion, sex education, sweatshops, vaccinations, or zero tolerance policies.
The reason I won’t be talking about these things is because they are not the problem. Certainly, they ARE problems, but they are not THE problem. THE problem, if I may be blunt, is Christians who don’t have a damn clue what they’re talking about.
And yet they continue to talk.
Let me be crystal clear for a change, the world needs only one thing from Christ’s image-bearing, trumpet blaring representatives: that thing is the Gospel. Period.
Jesus never told his followers to build a more perfect political union, never told us to be involved in politics, He never told us to use political muscle and policy in our secondary objective of helping and serving the poor and the least of these. He told us to tell the world about Him, and about what He did in the cross. End of story, end of list.
The best description I’ve ever heard, I heard in Bible College: “People suck; Jesus came to fix that.” Amen and amen, people do suck. We suck so much.
We suck because we think our problems can possibly have any resolution, any true fix outside of the grace of God. We suck because like the Israelites of old, Pharisees, and Sadducees, many of us believe that conformity to the Christian moral code must come before belonging to the community of faith. We try (desperately) to (needlessly) legislate our moral code into law to the absolute tragic detriment of our mission, and the disdain of our audience.
What do I even mean by that? Let’s say we convince gluttons to stop being gluttons because, I don’t know, let’s say it becomes a capital offence. Do you know what we’ve done? Created a society of skinny people who are still going to end up in Hell. Behaviour modification doesn’t earn you salvation. Living the “right way” and doing the right things do never and can never outweigh a single speck of the fallen nature of humanity (not that that would even begin to be enough if it were even possible in the first place, which it isn’t).
The church is divided enough when it comes to theological issues that actually matter we ought not divide over such comparatively trivial and worldly issues. Remember the commissioning Jesus gave us: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.” Notice the order of operations there? The BEDMAS of Evangelism?
- “Make disciples”
- “Teach them to observe”
Obedience comes after belief. We don’t believe, we don’t submit to the moral code of the Bible until after we receive the gift of salvation; until after it becomes joy and freedom to us. Imposing the moral code of Christianity on people who don’t believe does nothing but add weight to the millstone that is already dragging them down.
The only thing Christians ought to be soapboxing about is the Good News, the Gospel, the always-still-and-forever-free gift of salvation. Everything else is window dressing and debatable, yes, everything. Am I saying that if it's not a Gospel issue it's not important?
Perhaps I don’t know jack about the litany of issues I described above, perhaps I’m upside down in all my thinking on judicial, cultural, and social issues. Perhaps not. I may not really know much, but this I do know. Jesus alone gives us the only life that matters, and my job, our job is to make him known.
Am I advocating that believers completely disengage from public discourse, politics, discussion and debate? Far from it, if I were, I’d have nothing to do when I get together with my friends. It is imperative that believers are present and behaving like servants in the community they are in. (there’s something in the book of Jeremiah about that if memory serves) Our primary reason for that though, is not to force conformity or build some kind of ideal Christian world, there is no such thing until the Lord returns after all. Our primary driving force is to show the unconditional love of God in all things, even the mundane, and the boring.
John Piper once wrote that there was a way to drink orange juice that brought glory to God and another that was sin. Orange juice.
We live in an era when everyone wants to have their mic-drop moment. Everyone wants to win the argument even if they lose the person in the effort. And why not? Dropping a mic is badass, rendering someone speechless with our own rhetoric is empowering. It makes you, makes us all feel powerful, and truthfully, I’m just as guilty as the next guy, but does it really do any good? Does it afford us the opportunity to speak truth and life into a soul that desperately needs it? Probably not am I right? So why do we bother? Why not rather be wrong or be wronged if it leads to the repentance and salvation of another? Let us resolve to do this. To stop dropping our mics and instead, handing them over to our neighbours so that we can learn about their experience from them. So that we can learn from their lives, understand why they believe what they do and why, and know how to lead them to the truth that will truly set them free.
As a Biblical conservative, a cultural Liberal, a husband, a dad, an ex barista, and a pastor, I want to see the church act differently in the world. My big passion in ministry is to see how believers can bring the Gospel into the world around them while pursuing the lost art of winsomeness. It is what fuels me and drives me to write. Engaging culture with the truth of the Gospel in a way that is winsome, wise, and as Colossians 4:6 directs us: “seasoned with salt.” It’s my hope that what I say here helps you not only in your own faith, but helps you share it more effectively and fruitfully.