To be Restored
To be Reconciled
To be Saved
To be Healed
To Hear The Good News
To be at Peace
To be Sought Out
To be Set Free
To be given Hope
“To be Delivered from their Sin.”
“They,” those that are without Christ, the lost, or those who have not been translated from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), according to Christians, need all of those things. The problem is that assuming any particular sub-set or group needs those things and expressing the same, may be considered anti-social or culturally unacceptable.
This is no where better demonstrated than in recent events regarding homosexuality. Ed Stetzer recently had this to say:
“We must realize that believing what the Bible says about sexuality will increasingly put us at odds with our culture. Pressure will continue to mount to accept a worldview rooted in cultural acceptance rather than biblical revelation. And we must prepare ourselves for the day when acceptance will not be enough—affirmation may be demanded to be a part of society. You can check out that whole article here.
“Affirmation may be demanded to be a part of society“
As a Christian people, our words are falling under ever intensifying scrutiny. Like Ed said above, acceptance will not be enough. Homosexuality is just one of the many culturally accepted norms that is thought by Christians to oppose biblical revelation. The day Ed speaks of is already here. Affirmation will be demanded by words that Christians will not be willing to give and by the imposed avoidance of words that are intrinsic to Christian belief. The next logical step is to excise those words which stand in opposition to modern culturally accepted norms, abolish them, and classify them as Hate Speech.”
“They,” not just homosexuals, but all those who find the Christian message offensive, do not need, do not want, and are offended when others say that “they” are a people who need:
Restoration – Reconciliation – To be saved – Healing -Good News -Peace -To be Sought out -To be set free -Hope -To be delivered from their sin.
And so, Christian people are faced with a challenge. Is it possible to communicate the gospel, to make disciples, and to truly love God and our neighbors without the words we’re used to using? Should we change our language and speak with a more diplomatic dialect? Should we, in a sense, become all things to all people to win some and keep the conversation open (1 Corinthians 9:22), or should we just keep using the Bible’s God-breathed vocabulary and Spirit appointed venues and suffer the consequences.
My wife recently had this to say:
“I love with a Christ-centered worldview, which is pretty hard to separate from myself, who I am, and how I live. My agenda is always going to be to love and honor Christ and to love my neighbor as myself. But if my neighbor expects that I can love him or her and they allow it only by calling me to separate myself from the very foundation of who I am, which drives me to think, speak and act in a way contradictory to a secular worldview or one without Christ, then my neighbor is asking me to do the very thing he hates — to be disingenuous.”
My wife speaks to this issue with distinct clarity. We as believers, Christians, are incapable of cleaving Christ’s words from our relationship to Him. Jesus said we are to Abide in Him and have His words abide in us. (John 15:7) If we say to any people group that they need:
Restoration – Reconciliation – To be saved – Healing – Good News -Peace -To be Sought out -To be set free -Hope -And To be delivered from their sin,
then we are, in essence, saying passively and by necessary consequence, “they” are:
In disrepair – unreconciled – lost – sick – harbingers of bad news – anxious – in hiding – trapped – hopeless – and captive.
There’s no excuse for the horrendous manners in which the gospel has been presented by angry people over the ages and likewise the pressure, manipulation, and sheer idiocy, but where are the Voltaires of the day? Where are those who, like him, would say, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Where are the Orwells who warn through sarcasm when in 1984 he said, “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
Must Christians be forced into calling that which is evil good and that which is good evil? (Isaiah 5:20) (Malachi 2:17) Must they “affirm” as Ed says, that which is in direct opposition to their world view? Must Christians become “disingenuous” as Claudia says, just to dialogue? A few questions:
Is it possible to communicate the gospel without our favorite gospel words?
Should we just toss the use of words all together and preach the gospel through our actions alone?
How do you personally point to Christ without pointing at others?