Apparently the Church is losing the culture wars. We must be. My Facebook feed says so. And Facebook never lies, right? Today it’s about genderless bathrooms. Tomorrow it will be something else. Each issue is presented as ‘The Most Important Issue of Our Time!’ Until the next time. Many Christians – including Christian leaders – get drawn into these endless debates with two primary responses: we complain and / or we fight back. Today I’d like to propose a third option. Rise above it all and don’t take the bait.
Quit complaining and being drawn into someone else’s fight. When we do either of those things, we’re operating in reactive mode. We’re on the defence. We’re letting others set the agenda for us. Following Jesus means following His lead as well as His teaching. Have you noticed how Jesus never allowed others to pull Him into their debate? Not ever! His enemies tried to bait Him with an impossible question about taxation, but instead of descending to their level He raised the conversation to his level. (Luke 20:20-26) Debate over. When His disciples saw a man born blind, they wanted Jesus to pick sides in a theological debate. Instead, He healed the blind man (John 9). Debate over.
Jesus was undeniable in His actions and His words. He was always ‘on message’ and never lost sight of His mission and purpose and neither involved winning arguments – certainly not arguments about the moral issues of His day (and there were plenty!). He rose above all that and focussed on His mission. He has called us to live the same way – always engaged with Jesus’ agenda – nobody else’s.
Every minute I spend being drawn into the agenda of others is a minute I’m not spending pursuing Christ’s agenda.
Is the culture heading in a direction you think is bad? (No doubt it is, in many ways). Don’t become just another whining or angry voice in the mess – but don’t ignore it, either. Rise above it. Stick to the agenda Jesus gave us instead of being drawn into endless arguments, debates and unwinnable wars of words.
We just need to do what Jesus told us to do. His instructions haven’t changed. It’s still supposed to be about the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Love God, love others and make disciples.
And remember, no matter how bad things seem to get and how much you’re tempted to divert from that mandate, Jesus gave those commands to people living in the moral cesspool of Roman corruption and persecution. If it worked then, it can work today.
The world isn’t looking for someone to win the latest debate in the culture wars. They’re looking for an alternative to the whole mess. They’re looking for Jesus (even if they don’t know it yet). Don’t follow the crowd, follow Jesus. Don’t win the debate, change the conversation. Be proactive. Be Christ-like. Be the Church Jesus promised to build and never, ever, take the bait when the world picks a fight with you.