"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Okay, so you may have heard about this whole Starbucks red cups fiasco. Before you roll your eyes at yet another person talking about it, I'm not really going to talk about it. It just sparked the thought that has itched at my brain this week.
To be honest, none of my Christian friends were offended by the cup. I wasn't offended by it. I don't have an expectation that people who don't believe in Jesus would act like they do.
That's what I want to talk about. I think too often, as Christians, we think people should act in a way that lines up with our beliefs even when they don't share those beliefs.
Hear me...I believe in the Gospel. I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. I believe that Jesus is the answer to every situation. And I believe that people need to know Him. I also believe it is our job to tell them..no, its our job to show them Jesus.
That's where I think we get off track. We are really good at the speaking and not so good at the showing. And more than that, our version of telling becomes based more on politics and debates than on the story of Jesus and His love for the world.
An argument or political debate never won anyone to Jesus. A boycott never made someone want to give their life to Jesus. I would dare to say that Jesus wouldn't have done either of those things. (You are free to disagree with me on that point but biblically Jesus ate with sinners, had honest, loving conversations with them, was gracious and forgiving and merciful to those who didn't believe. He got tough and tossed temple tables with the church folks.)
All that being said I also get it. Suddenly culture is shifting and we feel hemmed in. We feel persecuted and that is uncomfortable. I understand the feeling. I even understand the response. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. We feel a little scared because we don't know how bad it will get and we are reacting out of fear.
Here's the thing. We aren't supposed to react out of fear. We are supposed to react out of faith.
Whatever happens in this world (and here in America our little red cup, Happy Holiday persecutions pail in comparison to the rest of the world so let's keep that in perspective) we don't have to be afraid. Why? Because nothing takes God by surprise.
After all, either God is who He says He is, who we say we believe in, or He isn't. And if He is, then He is in control. He knows the story that is being written, both for you individually and for Christians at large. He is not taken off guard, and He hasn't abandoned anyone.
In fact, Jesus promised us trouble. In another verse He promises persecution for His name's sake. So this cultural shift and even media reaction to our beliefs shouldn't really surprise us.
And while I understand the feelings of fear and anger I think we need to be more in control of how we respond. I think we need to sit back and ask ourselves what the goal is. Is it to win some supposed war on Christmas? Or is it to introduce our neighbor to a loving Saviour who can heal their brokeness? Is it to argue our beliefs or to have conversations that lead people to Jesus and let Him handle the details of someone else's life? Is it to light up social media with a lot of talk or is it to put our faith into action and do what God has asked us to do?
Perhaps if we did more of what we are supposed to do, more people would see Jesus and believe in Him. Maybe we should spend more time sharing the gospel and less time being offended by things that don't matter in eternity. Maybe we should give people more reasons to support our beliefs by actually living our beliefs.
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35 ESV
"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:26-27 ESV
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 ESV
So #calmdown and remember that God is still God. He didn't die and leave us in charge. Rather he died for us, and everyone else, and wants us to let people know that. He wants us to show others who he is by living out our faith, talking out of faith, reacting out of faith.
Lead people to Him. Show them what He is like. Teach them what He can do in their lives. Then let Him do what only He can do, transform souls.