Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Great Divide

What is the problem we as Christians have in reaching unbelievers? Is the problem that we are not relevant and are not meeting people where they are? Now Scripture does talk about meeting people where they are, and I am convinced there is a place for that (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). But there is a danger here of going too far and becoming conformed to the world (Romans 12:1,2). Also, the Gospel is a stumbling block, and we cannot expect people necessarily to accept it just because we present it in a way they understand (1 Corinthians 1:22-25). But I am convinced the more basic issue is the issue of self-righteousness. We forget that we are sinners saved by grace and see ourselves as upright, respectable people, who have it all together.

Scripture makes it clear that we are sinners (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9) who are saved by God's grace apart from anything we can do to earn it (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5,6). This salvation should result in a change in behavior (Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:18). But this change is imperfect in this life (Philippians 3:12-16; Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:25), and we need to continually return to the grace of God (Romans 8:33,34; 2 Peter 1:9; 1 John 1:9). We need to remember this so that we do not fall into the Pharisees' attitude of feeling we are superior to others (Matthew 9:11-13; Luke 7:36-50; 19:1-10).

Now there is a very careful balance here; we do not want to condone evil (Ephesians 5:11; Jude 22,23; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Also, if we simply conform to the world, we have nothing to offer anyone. But we need to avoid the pride which makes us refuse to reach out to people. This is often made more difficult by our current cultural stance of advocating and approving sin. (This can be particularly difficult for older people or those brought up in Christian homes who were raised with a deep aversion to behaviors now considered acceptable.) But we need to remember that we are sinners saved by God's grace and that Christ came to seek and save the lost. It can be a difficult course to navigate, with dangers on every side. But the most dangerous condition is when we feel no struggle. This means that we have totally compromised with the world or have become totally indifferent to those who need God's salvation. Rather, we must take the hard course in between. Also, while there is a danger in reaching out to people in their sin, it is clear disobedience not to try. But to try to be relevant and conform to people's wishes is even more dangerous, because it is even easier to cross the line without knowing it. But it is not Scriptural to hide out in a safe Christian environment and refuse to extend a hand to those who need a Savior.

1 comment:

  1. We are sinners but many of us do not act like it. I have had the best results when I have dropped my guard and shared my pain, struggles and failings with "sinners".