This is not a political post, but it will make some uncomfortable, I hope. Some time during the last two years I read an article - I can’t remember the author – written by a Democrat who was a conservative Christian. He was frustrated by moderate and left-leaning attempts in his own party to court the Evangelical vote in the US. What frustrated him most was that these people would talk on and on about what they thought the Evangelicals wanted to hear: faith, family, freedom, church, tradition, patriotism, etc. However, they would never talk about the one thing, and this One Thing was the core of the Evangelical belief system, the person and mission of Jesus Christ.
Not that a man has to be an Evangelical Christian to run the country, and I am sure that some well-meaning Christians are not even qualified to lead. Some are. I was preparing this post when I heard that Mitt Romney, a Republican candidate for President and practicing Mormon, was going to give a speech on faith. I was reasonably sure what he would say, and I was correct. It was a very eloquent speech about freedom, tolerance in American history, church and liberty with a subtle Universalist haze. Jesus was mentioned – a classic Mormon slight of hand - but it was a different Jesus, and most of all the One Thing was not to be found.
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Cor 2:1,2
I must confess a little trickery here because this post is really about the church. For some reason there are leaders and church planters who use the exact same approach doing the same as the left-wing and liberals, but they are doing it in reverse. It basically says this: “Let’s talk about everything that we think they – non Christians - are interested in, but let’s leave out the One Thing. It might be too offensive. The less difference they see between us and them the greater chance they will come to our meetings.” Beneath this is hidden the fact that they know very few lost people; thus, the awkward approach.
I am honestly annoyed when people try to patronize me using my faith. They lose credibility in my eyes. They should simply say, “No, I am not a Christian, but I do think I can lead so please vote for me,” or “Sorry, I am an atheist, but this is still a good business deal.” I would respect that much more. (Actually, Mr. Romney was rather honest and true to his colors – vague colors I must add - unlike others who are election year chameleons.)
I also venture to say that non Christians must be annoyed when they see us courting them while trying to act like them and pretending to enjoy the same things that we think they enjoy. They might think, “Why are these guys hiding or even DENYING the traditional tenants of their faith just to get me to attend their meetings? I heard from my grandmother that they used to believe in something. What is it that they want so badly with me to make them do all of this?” (Beneath this is also hidden the fact that they don’t even know us, their neighbors and co-workers.)
Well, that is the question isn’t it? What is it we want with these people? Not votes. Are we driven by a success motivation to fill Sunday venues, catapult ourselves to Evangelical fame or are we driven to see people come to the Crossroad of the One Thing that will forever change their lives? By keeping the One Thing as an anchor of our creative evangelistic endeavors we can’t really go wrong. Removing it is disaster. Truth with love will prevail. It also helps to simply get to know people who are an arm’s length away. No artificiality, just …be as natural as Christ was.
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 1 Pet 3:15
Moses, Paul & Seatbelts