Historically, the United States has been a culturally Christian country. What I mean by that, is that our cultural values have been based on Biblical principles. I do not subscribe to the notion that the U.S. was ever a ‘Christian nation’, however the culture has been heavily influenced by Christianity. This is both good and bad.
On the one hand, the true Church has been abundantly blessed by the cultural Christianity of our nation: freedom to gather, worship, and proclaim the gospel (good).
On the other hand, this adoption of Christian values has some drawbacks: there has been much confusion about what a Christian is, how one becomes a Christian, and also many who falsely believe they are Christians because they share moral ground with the Church. But that is changing.
Within the last 50 years or so, we have seen a rapid departure from these long-held Christian values to an increasing secular and liberal societal system. For the Christian, this can be discouraging and sad. We certainly have to endure more in-your-face immorality. It is becoming more difficult to find entertainment that doesn’t offend our consciences, with T.V. and movies having an ever increasing propensity for violence, death and licentiousness. We are watching the culture embrace and normalize homosexuality, and to stand with women’s rights means to declare war on the unborn. Everyone wants rights and freedom, and zero accountability or limits. Up is down, and down is up.
We should be seeing a refining and purifying of the Church; wheat separating from chaff. And in some instances, we are. But I have noticed a problematic issue. Since we (the Church) have enjoyed an abnormally long persecution-free time here in the U.S., some believers are unsure how to navigate our new cultural-values without compromising their testimonies, and that is what I would like to talk about today.
In recent years we have seen the tiniest bit of push-back from society, the result being that Christians are told that if they object to the new morality, they are bigots, haters, and all around poo-poo heads. Standing on Biblical truth and sharing the Gospel, which as believers we know is the most loving thing we can do for the unsaved, is deemed hateful. Because many in the Church have grown accustomed to acceptance or at least toleration by the larger culture, they aren’t sure how to respond and navigate this new territory. They know they are not inwardly hateful to those who are in rebellion to God, but the rebels are adamant that they are. So, there is a temptation to compromise, lest they be labeled haters, bigots, or doody-heads.
So, the question is, how do we go about our lives as believers, engaging with the unsaved around us, without compromising our testimonies? How do we act lovingly toward those in rebellion, without seeming to affirm their sin? I don’t have a perfect, all-in-one answer for you, but I can offer some things that I think about and keep in mind when interacting with non-believing friends and family, especially online.
The overarching principle, in my opinion, is to be obedient to what God has said in His Word, and leave the results, and impressions/perceptions of others in His hands. This can be really hard to do, especially when unbelievers mischaracterize us.
For example, if a friend asks you if you can be a (practicing) homosexual, or a fornicator and a Christian, and you show them through the scriptures that one cannot, you have acted in love whether or not they understand that.***
When interacting online, I try to think about how my comment or like or re-tweet might be perceived by those watching. Here are some mock-situations as examples: If a friend is a consummate partier, I would pass on “liking” those pictures from their last kegger. However, when they post about a school or work achievement, I take the time to congratulate them. If a homosexual friend posts wedding pictures, I do not comment or like them, as I do not want to confuse anyone that I would be affirming something that God explicitly forbids. However, I look for opportunities to interact over things that do not center around their rebellion. Do they have a nice garden, or are they into hiking? Let’s converse about that. The best way to love and engage a non-believing friend is when they reach out in a crisis, as people often do on social media. This is a wonderful opportunity to offer prayer and support, and possibly a chance to share the Gospel with them.
I think the important thing to keep in mind, when interacting with non-believers, is that we not confuse them by joining in or affirming the very things that keep them separated from God. And we don’t worry when they push-back against light and truth, trusting that the Lord is sovereign over hearts and results.
Soli Deo Gloria!
***Caveat: It goes without saying that your heart attitude must be right before the Lord and toward that unbeliever. That is the group to which I am speaking. People operating under the guise of Christianity in order to bolster or legitimize their hatred of a specific sin are not being addressed in this post.