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Being an effective Christian in a hostile world


This afternoon on Facebook, someone informed me that I represent everything that's wrong with Christianity.

Serves me right for trying to argue about faith and politics on Facebook, especially with someone I don't know (a friend of a friend, to be precise). I've been on there long enough to know that such conversations never end well, or at least, extremely rarely. 

I had been trying to make a point about the double standard that Christians, especially conservative Christians, have to deal with when it comes to the media and politics. Anything we do wrong gets shouted from the housetops; anything our opponents do wrong gets buried. But as I've been learning, leftists really, REALLY do not like to hear about the double standard.

My debate partner, though I didn't tell him this, demonstrated my point for me nicely. He believed that should be allowed to say whatever he wanted about me, my faith, and my politics; I should not be allowed to say anthing negative about his views. Hello, double standard. I would have loved to challenge his thinking, but I didn't. Because what good would a challenge do to someone who is already convinced, before I speak, that I have nothing worthwhile to say?

But in a world full of people who think that way about Christians -- and especially in a world where politicans gain widespread approval by pandering to that mentality -- it's easy to feel silenced, marginalized, and utterly ineffective. And that's not a great feeling. The good news is, we were forewarned -- and given the remedy.

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:18-19 (NKJV)

"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you." Luke 6:27-28

Jesus knew all about what we would face, and He told us what to do. They will hate you. Love them.

They will hate you. Forgive them.

They will hate you. Bless them, and pray for them, and know that they are fellow creatures made in the image of God, who loves them.

Seems like it would be a lot easier -- not to mention a lot more fun -- just to remake the world in our own theological and political image instead. And as long as we keep a good, wise, humble perspective and make sure our goals line up with God's will, we're allowed to try to accomplish political goals for the common good of our society. But our power, in human terms, is severely limited. We won't ever be as effective as we want to in that arena. Yet in another arena -- the one to which every Christian is called -- God grants us power to achieve a goal that in this cultural climate seems all but impossible: to love our enemies.

We will never be able to make life fair. But living in the midst of unfairness, we can still change the world.

Comments:

Welcome to the club!
"This afternoon on Facebook, someone informed me that I represent everything that's wrong with Christianity."

Congratulations! You have joined the club!

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I agree with all you've said. But in addition to this, I do not think loving our enemies means letting them run over us, or letting them get away with their falsehoods without calling them on it. Remember Jesus' interactions with folks. He asked questions and he made people confront their own sin. Even during His trial and torture session, He called those beating Him to account (paraphrasing): If I am saying the truth, why did you strike me?

Of course they continued. They always will. But Jesus can never be viewed as a doormat who let people say and do whatever they wanted, without Him speaking up about it.

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The mistake is getting defensive/trying to explain your point of view. Next time, just ask the person why they are behaving in such an intolerant manner. In fact, this should be done *before* you get into the meat of the discussion. Say something like, "I'd like to share my view, but first I need to know if this is a safe place to do so. Do you consider yourself a tolerant person?"

They, of course, will say they are. Then when the spew their intolerance, all you have to do is remind them of their own claim to be tolerant!

You'll see them sputter, scream and/or then fall of the internet.

It's like magic.
Fraydna
I agree with Ellen on relationship-building. However, you can reach some strangers pretty effectively with a smile and an offer to pray. Standing in check-out lines at the grocery, waiting for your gas tank to fill, in line at the post office are good places to develop "short-term relationships". One says something polite to the one waiting before or behind, and you strike up a conversation. I've never met someone in a line like that that doesn't have a problem--often a serious one. Listening and offering to pray with/for him/her is a quick way to grab their attention and focus it on God. I part ways with a smile,and I watch them leave with a "who was that alien?" look on their faces. But, they're thinking!
Fraydna, I think you need develop a friendship/relationship with someone before you can truly show them the love of God.
Well put. It leads me to ask how I can demonstrate God's love to someone with whom I don't have a relationship on Facebook or other online social media. Ideas, anyone?
The worst part of the ridicule and silencing we face isn't its effect on us; mature Christians can take it, although it's tough sometimes.

The really bad impact is on young people. They don't want to be thought of as stupid and bigoted, and they certainly don't want to be outcasts. It's a tough life they face, in school and elsewhere, and many are giving up, giving in, and going along.

It's heartbreaking that the support system isn't there for them. (Even "Christian" leaders on campus are steering them wrong these days.)

As if evangelizing weren't enough of a task, we now have to figure out how to slow the loss of young Christians.
Rolley,

It's not easy being green.

According to 1 Cor. 13, we're supposed to be happy when good things happen. Gina's writing is definitely a good thing!
Gina, That's Twice This Week
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You've taken my breath away with astoundingly well-articulated blog posts.

And several of the commenters here weren't far behind.

Now you'll excuse me while I go try to repent of my envy/jealousy. I've "gone green."
I understand the feeling. I feel as if I have to accept everyone else's opinion but no one has to accept mine.