We find ourselves at something of a crossroads in Australia.
At something of a crossroads in the Aussie church.
Same sex Marriage is the issue I speak of.
One of the largest but most invisible hazards underneath the same-sex marriage issue, (and please bear in mind that this is coming from someone who does hold what many would call the conservative view) Is that conversations on how Christians should respond to it has the prevalence and the volume to replace faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ as THE line in the sand. The line that marks out the difference between Christians and non-Christians in the minds of many in the Church.
I doubt that they would say it in as many words or out loud, but having seen some of the tirades on some of the Facebook comment streams under posts by Aussie Christians who are unsure about a plebiscite (please bear in mind this is not equatable to supporting same-sex marriage) you just know that they are at an ever growing risk of passive-aggressive sideways glances on Sunday mornings.
Meanwhile, Every time Andrew Bolt jumps on the left from a great height, we can’t wait to wheel him into conversations, social media even Sunday mornings. Now Andrew’s not the problem. He’s doing his job as a journalist and a commentator. Nor is any other social commentator, even Waleed Aly. The problem is that we risk becoming pawns in an argument. The more Christians identify with social commentators and journalists (and thus also therefore against other social commentators and journalists), we’re tempted towards a deadly trap and here it is:
Beginning to think that you can win spiritual battles with worldly weapons.
If you start loving one commentator and detesting another, look out; you’re being tempted to start fighting the battle of ideas in the world’s ways. The moment we do, we lose all point of difference. Point of difference, I’m going to come back to that in sec.
But first, Paul:
2 Cor 10 3:4 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.
Paul goes on to say some pretty full-on stuff but all of it has to be taken in the context of these early verses. No one and nothing can actually change a person’s mind save for the power of Jesus. Heck, Paul would know.
Don’t misunderstand me here, I realise there are many important issues for Christians to be concerned about, moreover we have to engage with culture but my question is: what is our primary narrative? In my view, if people visiting are not walking away from a Sunday service thinking “man they are all about Jesus and who he is…..”
You haven’t done Church.
Moreover, what they are thinking will reveal what your primary narrative really is.
Here’s why I feel that this is important for us to think about, and why I’ve talked about the danger of hitching our wagon to social/political commentary. It’s about what social commentary doesn’t, in fact, what it can’t tell us.
It’s not going to tell us how to live in a world where the political reality is against us.
Only the Bible is going to tell us that, because only the Bible is full of examples of people trying to work out their faith and worship God in the middle of a society abandoning God. The more we focus only on the language of prevention, the less developed will be our language of ministry to a fallen world.
After 11 years of ministry to mainly millennials, I have heard the question “why don’t we see more (insert stereotype here, usually young people) in Church on Sundays.” I have thought long and hard about this question that genuinely interested and passionate Christians ask and I’ve only recently realised the answer we may not want to hear:
What if the people that are not in our Church represent the questions we’re not addressing?
As righteous as that sounds, it may also just mean more and more disagree with us, but I feel it’s at least worth asking.
It takes more faith to do it God’s way. We fall into doing it the world’s way because somewhere deep down we doubt the truth: that the Scriptures really do have an answer of everyone’s and anyone’s questions and how to address them. The Scriptures really do have an answer because they come from the one who created us and loves us more than we can imagine.
THAT friends is our point of difference.
P.S. Happy to learn from disagreement.