In the summer of 1991, there was something called The Joshua Project. They advertised in a lot of Christian periodicals that they were going to have this huge national meeting, and the goal of the meeting was to “take back the culture.” The people behind this project wanted to fight back against the pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality trends that were gaining traction in America. They wanted to defend the family and defend traditional morality, which they recognized were under attack. With their conference, they hoped to begin a movement that would “reclaim the heart of our culture.”
We American Christians recognize that, historically, we have lived in a Christianized culture that is very different from what the early church ever experienced. In fact, it is very different from what many Christians today in other parts of the world experience.
There are Christians in Israel living out their faith in a thoroughly un-Christian culture. There are Christians in Arab countries who have absolutely no influence in the political sphere. There are Christians in places where the culture’s morality is entirely dominated by Islam or Hinduism. There are Christians in places where their faith puts them at risk of murder.
For Christians in places like these, their expectation is not that they will change culture and make life easier for themselves. That isn’t their goal. Like we saw last time from the early church’s example, the Christians in these places have one goal: share the truth in a dark place so that souls will be saved.
We who have lived as Christians in America for a long time recognize that Christianity’s influence over our culture is dying. More and more, our culture is looking like those our brothers and sisters face in other countries. And those of us in older generations, who have known and enjoyed the benefits of cultural influence, are tempted to fight back against what’s happening. This is why things like The Joshua Project happen. This is why Christian advocacy groups like the Christian Coalition of America exist, combatting political and legal movements that are contrary to Christian morality.
Looking at these organizations, we might be tempted to believe that our purpose as Christians is to wage war against non-Christians. But this is a strange perspective, isn’t it? Are non-Christians the enemy, or are they the mission field? Scripture’s answer is very clear: Non-Christians are not to be hated or fought. They are not to be demeaned or assaulted. These people are the very people we have been called to reach “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Now, I am not saying that God doesn’t expect us to be salt and light to our culture. He does. I am simply saying that we have no mandate from Him to take culture back. Because frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you go to Hell as a policeman or a prostitute. It doesn’t matter whether you go to hell as a Republican or a Democrat. It doesn’t matter whether you go to Hell as a capitalist or a socialist. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because you are condemned either way.
Simply moralizing culture will not save souls, and approaching the lost as the enemy will not save souls. The lost are our mission field, and engendering hostility toward them accomplishes nothing.
Of course, I don’t have any respect for people without integrity. I don’t have any respect for people who don’t tell the truth. But at the same time, I don’t hate those people. I understand that this is how the unsaved act. So I need to treat them as the mission field instead of the enemy. This is why a politicized Christianity blurs our priorities. It weakens our loyalties and confuses our vision. It tricks us into forgetting that our citizenship is ultimately in heaven, not in America. The color of our spiritual citizenship is not red, white, and blue, and believing otherwise only causes uncertainty about our real identity and goal as Christians.
As Christians, we are called to reach lost people. We cannot afford to weaken our mission by making the unregenerate people in our society the enemy. We can hate the sins. But we cannot ever become the enemy of the sinner, because we are his only lifeline.
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