Fellow followers of Jesus, we need to worry less about what others think of us. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t care at all. I’m saying we need to care less. Like most Christians, I hate when someone brings reproach on Christ through ungodly attitudes and behavior. The Church at large should feel comfortable correcting them when this happens.
One might think, from reading some of today’s most popular blogs and books that the single biggest hurdle the church has is a PR problem. They say, in essence, that the secular world’s perception of us is their biggest hurdle to faith–and the leading source of decline in America. People think we’re mean. People think we’re fill-in-the-blank phobic. Therefore, they question our faith’s validity.
A far more important question is: are we? If we are, we should repent.
However, it’s vastly manipulative for secularists to say, essentially, “Your beliefs offend me. Change them, and I will better accept you and your Jesus.” The Church should never allow itself to be so co-opted or manipulated.
While we can certainly feed negative stereotypes about Christians, we can’t control what others think of us, our church, our faith, etc. As long as we allow others to manipulate us by using labels and leading us to believe they would be Christians if it weren’t for us, we cannot be faithful. Why? Because we have shifted the basic question every Christian should ask ten degrees or more toward, “What do they think of us?” from “What does God think of us?”
These questions are not always in opposition–and the answers are not always easy to come by. I think God desires us to live peacefully, inasmuch as it depends on us. However, that must be kept alongside the church’s identity as the Pillar of Truth. How can we serve both God and humankind? An honest answer to the question, “Am I striving to please God or people?” is a key step in discerning how we ought to interact with the issues of our day.
There are some churches that don’t make decisions they know God wants them to make because of what other Christians think. This too is spiritually bogus. Leaders are worried about how one minority voice thinks of a decision–and back off–also bogus. Boldness is characteristic of Christ-followers because the the Spirit we have isn’t one of timidity (2 Tim. 1:7).
We should always pay attention to how we are coming across and listen for God’s voice coming through the voice of our critics. However, we ought not be manipulated by the guff we receive. We can and should listen respectfully. We should engage in serious discernment. Then, we should stand tall.
The world has no use for an invertebrate Church. They can manipulate it and conform it to their ideologies. God has little use for such a Church either. There comes a time when culture’s embrace is neither possible nor desirable. When is that? Whenever God and culture are out of alignment. There are many cultural tides pushing this way and that. Some actually align well with the Gospel. Some aren’t even close. In such cases, the Church should stand tall for God.
Not for themselves.
Not for their politics.
What do you think? What is a bigger problem: the Church’s “PR problem” or the compromise of truth?