No one likes us . . . now what?

I talked yesterday about something that really eats at me. Christians are increasingly seen as UnChristian.

There are at least two discussions to be had here.  One is does it really matter.  The other is what do we do about it?  I’m trying to be positive this year so I’m starting with the second one.

The first thing that comes to mind to me is something I’ve talked about before.  We need to stop fighting–stop fighting the “sinners,” stop fighting the culture war.  Here’s the deal: the culture war is over and we lost.  Culture doesn’t happen in a win or lose fight, it happens through communication, community, influence, and change.

At some point Christians stopped influencing culture and decided to fight it.  We failed.  It was a stupid fight to get into in the first place.

So stop fighting.

That doesn’t mean give up.  It means find a way to be a part of culture, to influence it.

For me that means being friends will people from all walks.  And that means friendship for friendships sake, not as an “in” to invite them to church.  Of course we want them to come to Christ, but I’ve seen too many people stop being friends with someone because they decided “they will never change their sinful ways.”  That isn’t our decision,  and people see through our fake friend veneer when we do this.

Christ called us to love all others through everything.  It’s time to get over ourselves.

(And by the way, it does work.  In all surveys the vast majority of people came to Christ through a relationship, usually a long term one.  Some of the favorite “hit and run” methods, tracts and media, combined account for about 1/2 a percent of conversions.)

Do you think we can handle real community?

Stick Your Nose In It

As mentioned in this post, there are different ways to look at our diversity.  For me, I’m the kind of person who likes to enjoy diversity and our differences.  Rather than hope for some washed out world, I think it is great to have a varied culture. 

While I don’t think anyone would say they wish for a world where everyone is the same, it’s easy to act that way.  When we don’t undertand or get another group,  by stopping at “they have their culture and I have mine” we do a disservice.  Really it’s a passive way of discounting someone else’s way of life.  We should be willing to learn about another culture and way of life-it could teach us a lot about ourselves.

In a strictly Christian sense, we get in to trouble when we just try to ignore or blow by a non-Christian culture.  It’s easy to think that is better than attacking culture as some groups do, but it really is not.  It still separates Christians as a whole from every other culture and worldview.  This approach results in a couple of things.

For one, it makes it easy to compartmentalize and have a relative view.  This is the idea of “every belief is as valid as another.” While every diverse belief deserves respect, it is not inherently valid because of that.  Second, it results in the Christian subculture that has grown so huge in the past 10-15 years.  We have our own radio, tv, clothes, books, schools, social web, and breath mints.  This is not a good thing.  Mirroring culture and trying to stick a christian label on it does no good.

In the same way we must reach outside of racial and ethnic barriers, we Christians need to leave our christian “ghetto” and plug into the world around us.  Appreciate and respect the diversity of belief or non-belief and interact.

Unique Mission

Yesterday I talked about our responsibility as Christians.

Responsibility to what?

We have to decide, as Christians, who we are beholden to politically.  Our leader is supposed to be Christ.  Our guide should be the Bible and prayer.

The Bible is pretty clear on what we, as Christians, are responsible to do.   We are to connect people with a life in Christ  (Matt 28:10). We are to be a force for the forgotten: the widow, the orphan, the alien; love our neighbors (Deut 10). We are to serve and use our gifts, our station in life, what power we may have for others in whatever way we can; be a shining city on a hill.  When ever possible God calls us to set right what has gone wrong in the world to the best of our ability.

When we begin to champion other things, we lose our uniqueness.  We lose our focus and become drawn into opinions, arguments, and politicized debate.  In a great interview with Catalyst recently, Gov. Mike Huckabee discussed his concern for Christian groups and organizations that start to broaden their focus to match a party or campaign.

Our calling is to support God’s work wherever we see it.  We should influence those in power where we can and fan the flames of God’s love and justice when we find it.

When we support the conservative or liberal agenda, we lose our authority and become just another voting bloc.  When we influence culture positively with our lives and, when appropriate, with our vote, we are unique.

Unique “Power”

There are two ways in which the church in unique in the world of politics . . .

One, the church is the only organization that pulls together people from every single walk of life. I challenge you to find another group that reaches all races, all political stances, all classes and brings them under one umbrella like the church does. The mix of people in the room is completely unique in the world. We even saw this last Sunday in the group at our Newcomers Meet & Greet.

This of course includes both Republicans, Democrats, and everything in between.

As stated by the wise Uncle Ben in Spider-man, with great power comes great responsibility. But responsibility to do what? Sometimes we seem to wish the Bible was full of to do lists instead of stories. The Bible doesn’t really say, “Here is the platform that you will focus on politically in a three pronged approach-thus sayeth the Lord.”

But the Bible does make certain things clear about our job as Christians. Our responsibility always comes down to people, relationships, and existing as God’s hand in the world. How does that filter into our politics?

Stay tuned for Our Unique Mission . . .

Erwin McManus on Influence

During a video segment we used the Sunday there was a great statement by Erwin McManus. In the middle of the word “influence” is the word, “flu.”

Influence doesn’t happen because we make it happen. It spreads like a virus.

How can you infect someone if the virus hasn’t taken hold of you as well?

Swing and a miss

So the Democratic party convention is this week. I’m sure it used to be a more momentous occasion but let’s face it, this election has been going on for a year and a half already. Nevertheless, everyone is talking about politics now whether they like it or not.
I’ve heard lots of discussion recently about the role of Christians in politics.
One thing I’ve heard more of and that I agree with is that Christians should be the ultimate swing vote.  There is no one party that represents the character and values, so to simply vote with a party is foolish.  We should be influencers, not followers.
What if Christians said, “You’ve got to earn my vote, you’re not just going to get it by default because of your party. And if I vote for you, I will be keeping tabs on you.”
I’m no expert, but I’d like to spark some conversation this week about how a Christian reconcile what they believe with the world of politics.
It should be interesting.

Who Owns You?

Everyone these days wants to categorize us into groups, voting blocs, and statistics. Maybe it’s because we started behaving as we’re told. Do you know what defines you and owns you?
Is it. . .

  • Your political party
  • Your religion*
  • Your past
  • Your assumptions
  • Your addictions
  • Your cravings

Or do you define yourself?

*not your faith