11/11/20 – By Sam McKeen
When I was a teenager, I found out that someone who I respected was spreading lies about me. My shock and hurt gave way to anger. Thankfully, my dad sat me down before I did anything foolish and shared some valuable wisdom with me.
He told me, “You can’t control what people say and do but you can control how you respond to them.”
This wisdom is something that I have carried with me and it has served me well over the years.
As I observe all that is currently happening in the world today, I have been reflecting on how the church should respond to a culture that is antagonistic to God. The need to respond correctly is vital if the church is going to be effective in accomplishing it’s mission.
Let me share three ways that God’s people need to respond to our current culture.
Stop blaming. Start confessing.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.James 5:16
When we identify a problem, our tendency is to assign blame rather than assume responsibility. Of course, if all we do is blame others then we will never solve the problem. We see this scenario continually play out in the political realm. We live in a culture that loves to pass the blame.
People are watching you. Do they see someone that consistently responds defensively and blames and accuses others? Or do they see someone that is quick to acknowledge their own failures and mistakes and works to make things right?
What can you confess today? What part of the problem do you own? Who have you hurt? Have you mistreated anyone?
When we confess our sin and failures, not only does it benefit us, it also benefits those around us.
What would happen if God’s people began a movement of confession in our culture? Don’t you think that our friends, neighbors, and even those who view the church with contempt would take notice and be drawn to God?
Stop dividing. Start uniting.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”John 17:20-23
One of Jesus’ most famous prayers was a prayer for unity for his followers.
A world that is divided desperately needs a church that is united.
What does this look like?
Let me ask, what are you posting on social media? What are you saying in your conversations with those that do not agree with you. Is your communication alienating others or advancing the name of Christ?
We must be careful not to stimulate the deep divisions that are already in our culture or else the church’s effectiveness will be greatly handicapped.
We must unify around our mission to advance the Kingdom of God and allow the Gospel to transform our culture.
Stop being fake. Start being authentic.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.James 1:22
Sadly, Christians are often accurately perceived as hypocrites. Many times, what we say we believe and what we do are two separate things. Unfortunately, this reflects the culture around us, as often what is communicated as being true and real is highly suspect.
We live in a culture where people only want to hear that which they agree with. Social media has only added fuel to that fire where countless amounts of money has been spent on developing algorithms to ensure that we only see things that we like and resonate with.
People are constantly evaluating what they hear or see through their own perception of reality. They do not see that their reality has been warped and that they are, in effect, living in an echo chamber.
Our culture is longing for something real, something of substance. They are tired of feeling used and sold to. Think about it, almost all of the content that we are constantly bombarded with wants something from us. This is a perfect opportunity for the church to be countercultural.
What can the church do? Be authentic. Be transparent. Go deep, relationally deep with people. Through the church consistently demonstrating genuine love and authenticity, a cynical culture can be transformed.
Consider taking time this week to engage in conversation with someone not like you. Find someone that has different political leanings or moral views than you do. Listen to them and share genuinely your care for them. But don’t stop there. Take time to invest in that relationship even if it is difficult at times. Genuine transformation takes an investment of genuine love.
Imagine what could happen if the church became an authentic, confessing, uniting force in the world!
This guest post was written by Sam McKeen. Sam serves as the Associate Pastor at Center Barnstead Christian Church.