Christians ShouldnÕt Be CultureÕs Morality Police

We aren't called to demand that secular culture reflect biblical principles.

BY CMJOYNER GOD July 13, 2015

“I like your Christ,” said Mahatma Gahndi, “but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

There’s a billboard outside the city limits where I live. The canvas is white and in large black letters, it reads, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Nothing else. No relational investment and no mention of God’s immeasurable grace—just Scripture used to insult non-believers.

Church, the world is watching us. They see the articles we float around the Internet, they read our billboards and bumper stickers, and for many outside of the Body, they feel one thing with crushing weight: judgment. There is no invitation in condemnation and no love in passive-aggressive battles fought along the lines of a newsfeed.

For many, the legacy being written does not point to Jesus. If the world will know we are His disciples by our love, but Christians are instead characterized by judgment, we will not be known as disciples of Christ but as hypocrites, much like the Pharisees that came before.

The values of our culture are often in conflict with the values of our faith, but this isn’t new. Many practices of the ancient world would be considered wholly unacceptable by society today. We are neither the first to live in an environment that challenges our beliefs, nor are we the first to disagree on theology.

However, we are the first with a hot and ready platform for serving quick, permanently recorded indictments, with minimal responsibility over what happens next. These instant splices are not used to reach the lost. They are only used to reinforce religious persons’ sense that they have chosen the “right” team and that their people agree with them.

When Paul addresses important issues related to sexuality in his letters to the Corinthians, he is speaking to the Church and seems unconcerned with society as a whole:

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral … In that case you would have to leave this world … what business is it of mine to judge those outside the Church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you’” (1 Corinthians 5:9. 12-13).

We were never commissioned to demand that secular culture reflect biblical principles. We were commissioned to reflect biblical principles in the middle of secular culture, pointing to God’s redemptive story.

So how do we walk the line of conviction and intention, engaging with culture in a way that is meaningful, without crossing over into a role to which we were never called? Let’s begin with what we know about Jesus.

Jesus Shared Meals and Intimate Conversations with the Non-Religious

If more Christians were eating meals with non-believers, or with believers they didn’t always agree with, the Internet might look nothing like it does. We often replace face-to-face conversations with insensitive, irresponsible use of social media.

The toughest discussions are the ones that require slowing down, pulling up a chair and pouring a drink together, because the words we type or affirm from a distance would so rarely come through our lips sitting inches away from another person, looking directly into their eyes.

And if we find that there is no one around our table who disagrees with us, well, we’ve found the larger problem and we must confess that our lives look much less like Jesus’ than we may imagine.

Jesus’ Love and Compassion for People Preceded Their Repentance

Right belief or behavior was never a pre-requisite for spending time with Jesus. When the religious leaders dragged a woman into the streets to stone her for adultery, Jesus loved her and protected her first, before (and possibly without) any change on her part.

We are either the ones holding the stones or the ones fighting to protect the woman on the ground. Jesus’ example is clear.

Jesus Didn’t Hide from Culture

He met people where they were, ate with them, talked with them and invited them to come with Him. He didn’t stand on the shore and yell across the water that Peter better follow or he’d be going to Hell. He invited him into a relationship and offered him a role in the story.

Jesus Kept Moving

Rather than huddling up and making camp in a town surrounded by His own people, Jesus knew what was at stake and He kept moving. His goal was healing and restoring the broken, not circling around those who were already following.

How can we communicate Christ’s love to the ends of the earth if we are lost fighting battles in our own neighborhoods?

What Could We Be Known for?

If we were to take a bird’s eye view of the country, we might find that, as a whole, Christians are not known for their love. So it’s safe to assume that, as a whole, Christians are not known for showing Jesus to the world.

What if we painted a new picture? New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote: “The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.”

What if Christianity was truly known for radical love and passionate pursuit of justice? Perhaps this life would serve as a powerful invitation to come and see, like Peter leaving his boat.

We can change the legacy that is being written; and the best place to start may be with Paul’s own words: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

CMJOYNER

11 thoughts on “Christians Shouldn’t Be Culture’s Morality Police

  1. Getting tired of Relevant Christian hating. Seem like a bunch of self-hating hipsters. I think a LOT of Christians are full of Love. This article is very biased and makes false generalizations.

  2. By turning our heads and remaining silent for dozens of years has resulted in what is happening in our country today. The following verse tells us what we should do:

    Isaiah 58: “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
    declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.

  3. Beautiful. In the Byzantine Catholic Church before we recieve communion, 3 times we ask God for Mercy. Be merciful to me a sinner, Forgive o Lord for I have sinned without number. I have sinned without number. I don’t have to tell anyone what I think about current political events, they know because of my family size and because I use the word Christ freely. I don’t need to scream at them on Facebook and panic. All we are doing when we pass around these articles that say the same thing is screaming and panicking. We were told to BE Not Afraid. Christ will take care of all of it. And if we are truely Christian we should not be worried about our property, our jobs, or anything because we know that Christ is God and that he will conquer.

  4. Christianity is not an alternative belief. The world was created by God–Jesus Himself witnessed its establishment before he came in the flesh–and mankind is God’s design. Christianity maintains the standards of OBJECTIVE TRUTH that is established by God Himself.

    What Jesus brought to mankind was reuniting the presence of God with mankind. The washing away of sins undid what Adam and Eve did as they were kicked out of God’s presence. But, the whole point of everything is that we continue to BE CREATION as we are now doing so while being WITH THE CREATOR.

    I realize that the unsaved don’t have the Holy Spirit and cannot live by the Spirit–they are not brothers as they are not transformed–but we Christians are still living by the standard of truth while they are destroying themselves and the world they live in. Of course we should stand for truth! With grace, yes, but we should still stand!

    You people are really scaring me!

  5. There is somewhat of a line. If my neighbor is gay, I will be his friend. If my neighbor wants to live with his gay partner, I will be their friends, no different than an unmarried man and woman, all who are living in sin. But if my neighbor is running a crack house, or if a business person wants to open a strip club at the end of my street, then I have an obligation to intercede. A lot of similar articles are out there that imply(or state) that Christians should just love with no action. My Bible seems to have more information than that on the life of Jesus.

  6. Do we sacrifice our own judgements and beliefs for God’s will %100 of the time? Sadly, I honestly can say that I don’t. At the same time, I desperately wish I did. I too judge sometimes. For that I hold nothing but shame before God. I apologize to anyone who ever has been affected negatively by me in the process. More importantly, I apologize to God for disobeying him. I know I need God to make me whole. Without him, there will always be something empty or missing deep within my soul. Judgement day his day and his alone. All I know is he tells me not to judge. Based on the Bible, am I wrong in thinking that way?

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