- Deliberate engagement: One of the trends in modern evangelicalism that bothers me most is the tendency to isolate ourselves from the world. Where the old-style fundamentalists made deliberate choices to separate themselves from "the world" (don't smoke, drink, chew, go to movies, play cards, and so legalistically on...), modern evangelicals are content to do so without the recognition that this is the effect achieved. So, instead of deciding not to wear make-up or ever drink a beer, modern evangelicals simply built an alternative culture and live exclusively in it. So we now have Christian music, Christian movies, Christian coffeehouses, Christian schools, Christian businessman clubs, Christian phone books, Christian bookstores, Christian candy, Christian clothing and on and on. As a Christian, you don't have to engage the world much at all. And it shows in the fact that despite all of the above, our country has never had fewer authentic Christian people. If we want to reach the world with Gospel, we have to be in it, but not of it just like Jesus said we should be.
- Intentional relationships: One of the great tragedies of Christianity in America is that, five years post-conversion, the average Christian has zero friends who aren't Christians. A real Christian needs real relationships with people who are really lost and therefore really going to Hell. We need to intentionally put ourselves into situations where we can do this. This means not just involving ourselves in the world with all of its mess, but also building connections with sinners, wherever we find them.
- Loving interaction: It isn't enough to simply know some non-Christians though. One has to engage with them in a loving way. We need to be willing to love them enough not to make a big deal out of their sin before they have the power of the Holy Spirit within them to change. We need to participate with them in activities they enjoy. We need to know them well and be vulnerable about what our lives are really like, so they don't form a false impression of Christians as "shiny happy people holding hands" (like REM sang year ago).
- Thoughtful explanation: Very often, Christians present their faith in a way that is hard for others to accept. They can't answer tough questions or give flippant answers to things that the person is genuinely struggling to think through. There are good answers to every intellectual challenge to the Christian faith, and I believe that every Christian should know what at least some of those answers are so that they can explain the Gospel in a way that makes sense. Christianity is the only solid basis for understanding the world and our place in it, but far too many Christians neither understand that nor can explain why.
- Compelling character: The Gospel only makes sense if the truths we espouse line up with the lives that we live. I have grown tired of hearing of Christian leader after Christian leader whose private life was virtually the mirror image of his public persona. But average Christians, no less than the public figures, need godly character too. The Gospel is mocked, not because it is not true, but because the lives of many Christians make it unbelievable.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The Seeker Sensitive Life
I found thehes comment on my post below, on Hell, especially interesting. Paraphrasing Mark Dever, they said, "we'd do a lot better to have Seeker Sensitive Lives instead of Seeker-sensitive services." I couldn't agree more. But what would a so-called "seeker-sensitive life" look like? My initial thoughts on the subject are below. What are yours?