3 Reasons We Are Losing the Culture--3 Ways We Can Win
We are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. No doubt about it. The exciting thing is, we can turn the tide. I don’t agree with some of my brothers and sisters who glumly declare that our days of being a shining light on a hill are gone.
The first step toward real change is being brutally honest about the current situation. I believe we must address three areas that are sucking the life out of the church and our influence in the culture.
Our hearts often do not reflect God’s heart. We lack compassion. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t care about the hurt, abuse and heartache going on in the culture, but we tend to focus only on the symptoms while God focuses on the cause. We are more inclined to judge others based on their outward appearance and actions. God always judges based on the heart.
A few years ago a friend’s marriage was falling apart. His pastor heard about it and stopped by unannounced to inform John (not his real name) that he needed to go to counseling. John listened and then explained the real problem: he was not following God closely and no amount of marriage counseling would do any good until he decided to put God first in his life. He actually rebuked the pastor for not having even asked about his spiritual condition. John instinctively understood that a self-focused person cannot simultaneously follow Jesus, the real cause of his marital troubles. I suspect the pastor was reminded that day of the importance of looking beyond the surface symptoms.
I have to keep that in mind myself. When I was younger, I was extremely judgmental of people who engaged in certain types of immoral behavior. I cringe inside when I recall how I wished those people would just go away forever. I certainly wasn’t reflecting God’s heart and His overwhelming compassion for all of humanity.
I wish I could say that among those who claim to follow Jesus such thinking is rare. Sadly, I cannot. I wish I could say that my fellow Christians really embraced in their heart of hearts the sentiment, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” But I cannot. I wish I could say that we live out the command, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.” With deep regret, I cannot.
Is it any wonder that the world hates Christians? We often speak of God’s condemnation, while neglecting to extend His love and forgiveness. Think of the moral issues of our day: racism, abortion, homosexual behavior, sex trafficking, drug abuse… What is your first reaction to them? Do any of them make you feel or react defensively?
May I ask you a question? If a blind man steps down hard on your toe does it hurt? Yes! But are you offended? Hopefully not.
We live in a culture of blind people. Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone rant: “racist!” “homophobe!” “misogynist!” “bigot!” or “hater!” We are always called to love. Sometimes it is tough love, but it is always love.
In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus commends the church in Ephesus because their deeds were great, they worked hard, and they did not tolerate wickedness in their midst; yet He had a complaint against them: they had left their “first love” for Him. Jesus said that the entire Law and the Prophets hang on the two commands to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40). In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul makes it clear that if we do not have love, our deeds amount to nothing at all from God’s perspective.
Whenever God gives me the privilege of mentoring believers, I make it very clear that they will hear very little about behavior, but a lot about having a heart for God. Is this because behavior is unimportant? No! In fact, behavior is extremely important because it is an effective indicator of where the heart is. I watch behavior carefully (including my own); behavior always follows belief. If behavior does not begin to change over time, there is usually still a heart problem that needs to be addressed. It’s not that I don’t talk about behavior that opposes God’s Word, but addressing the behavior is not the key to change. Simply put, I prefer to focus on treating the cause rather than the symptom.
We will never see our country turn back to God until His love for all people consumes our hearts and guides our actions. Truth, wrapped in love, is unstoppable. The culture can always discount our words, but it cannot long ignore our actions. The love of Christ conquered the Roman Empire by 400 AD. It can also conquer America—again.
My dad confidently believed another revival was coming to America, even though he realized he wouldn’t be around to see it. He also firmly held the primary characteristic of the next revival would be—LOVE.
If you really want to win the culture war, extend unconditional love—just like Jesus. It will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. It will also be the most powerful.
Next time we will look at the 2nd reason we are losing and how we can win.
Adapted from GOD is the Issue by Brad Bright
©2019 Brad Bright