10/13/2012 – Christians: Engage, not enrage the culture – Pastor Shane Idleman
“Of the 22 civilizations that have appeared in history, 19 of them collapsed when they reached the moral state America is in today” (Arnold Toynbee; historian).
As stated last week, if we fail to contend for what is right, we may see a time in our history when our children will ask, “Why didn’t someone do something?” Sadly, we may not be able to answer.
What can I do? What can we do? People are often willing to help, but they lack motivation; they also don’t know where to begin. How can we honor God and preserve our values? Here are just a few more ways:
1. Become involved, but with the right motives. Don’t initiate or pursue anything with a rebellious, prideful attitude. You can be right in your reasoning, yet wrong in your attitude. Anger over issues that anger the Lord, such as crime, abortion, pornography, abuse, oppression, and so on, is justifiable and can cause positive action. If anger causes damage to another, or personally damages your character, it’s probably not accomplishing God’s purpose. If anger sparks prayer and a Christ like stance, it can be productive. This may have been why Martin Luther said, “When I am angry, I can pray well and preach well.”
William Wilberforce (1759-1833) became very angry over the slave trade in Britain. Wilberforce, a Christian member of parliament, was very influential in the abolition of the slave trade, and eventually slavery itself in the British Empire. When he was deciding whether to enter politics or serve the Lord, John Newton, a former slave ship captain and author of the powerful hymn Amazing Grace, gave him wise counsel to do both. Thank God that he did. As it is with us, we can do both if God is calling us to a specific field of interest.
On the other hand, many have been guilty of not getting involved by saying, “We shouldn’t say or do anything political. All we need to do is preach the gospel.” Be careful . . . although the gospel is our primary focus, this shouldn’t be an excuse against action. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.” And Proverbs 14:34 records, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” One would assume that if seeking God brings blessings that rejecting Him would bring the opposite.
2. Engage, not enrage, the culture. Since evangelicals are often viewed as irrational, conceited, narrow-minded, and unintelligent, we need to engage the culture with humility, wisdom, patience, and discernment. Why would God ordain a government such as ours in America and not ask us to be involved? That’s why it’s important to know both sides of political “hot buttons”—knowledge allows us to make the right decisions.
Here is a quick test: How do you act if someone isn’t voting for “your guy”? Is jealousy, envy, bitterness, or un-righteous anger influencing your attitude?
If you decide to speak out, articulate your message clearly, patiently, and wisely. But always make sure your actions are backed by a clear biblical mandate. Respond; don’t react! Abraham Lincoln once suggested, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
A reaction often calls for an apology, while a response generally thinks things through, and often, no apologies are needed. However, extreme anger-driven demonstration and protest is often not the answer, neither is a total lack of involvement—there must be a balance. Our goal should not be to come across harsh, overly critical, or arrogant, but to speak the truth from a gentle spirit. Granted, this is hard. Many times, I’d rather forcefully quote Scriptures and end the argument instead of allowing a gentle spirit to guide my words. Meekness is not the absence of strength; it’s strength under control. It takes a great deal of strength to engage the culture in a spirit of humility while avoiding being harsh, cruel, and insensitive. A gentle response, underscored with truth, can win far more than a harsh response. Did you catch that: A gentle response, underscored with truth, can win far more than a harsh response?
Some may argue, “What about Jesus’ aggressive approach when He confronted the religious leaders?” First, He was dealing primarily with hypocrisy, not politics. Second, this approach may be the exception from time to time, but never the rule. Third, He knew the heart of those He was confronting—we don’t. Remember, you can be right in your reasoning, yet wrong in your attitude. The question shouldn’t be, “How can I win this argument?” but rather, “How can I persuasively and patiently articulate my message without compromising my Christian character?”
I thank God for Christians who are involved and who influence America’s political climate. I wish there were more who would engage, rather than enrage the culture.
I’m not suggesting we compromise our principles or God’s Word in the pursuit of peace or unity—truth cannot be compromised—God blesses and honors the peacemaker but not the religious negotiator.
Standing up for truth according to God’s Word, will, at times, enrage others; this is not what I’m referring to. I’m referring to those who ignite anger by being obnoxious, vain, conceited, and blatantly disrespectful. Avoid this at all costs.
More next week…[VIEW THE ACCOMPANYING VIDEO AT www.WCFAV.ORG UNDER: Manaseh & America-Do Not Forsake My Law]