I recently tweeted/facebooked a comment about abortion and was told that, as a Christian, I should only be focusing on making disciples, and that it is statements like the one I just made that made people feel unwelcomed and unloved in the church.
And it is certainly wise to be careful when speaking out on any hot button issue. It is important to be conscious of those who will read or hear what you write or say. But does this mean that Christians shouldn’t speak out on very important issues if they are in anyway controversial?
It is important to note that Christians are not called to only make disciples. “Making disciples” if you are not familiar with the terminology, essentially means building one another up in the faith and helping each other grow in our relationship with Christ. This can be done in a kind of a mentor/student role, or even in a peer to peer role.
But to say Christians should only focus on building disciples is wrong because Christians are equally called to share the gospel of Christ. Christians believe that salvation is through Jesus alone, and if that is the case, how unloving would it be not to share this truth? Christianity is not a cult where we are to cut ourselves off from the rest of society to “talk amongst ourselves.”
Again, if Jesus was and is who he said he is, then it is extremely unloving not to share the hope we have in Christ.
So if Christians should engage our culture with our faith, does this mean we shouldn’t take a public stance on issues for fear of turning people away?
No, and here is why:
1 Peter 3:15 tells believers to always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us. In other words, Christians should be ready to explain why it is we believe what we believe. A lot of what I believe stems from my belief in God and the Bible. Therefore even questions that don’t directly have to do with Jesus, my stance on abortion for example, reflects what I believe about the dignity of all human life, which comes from my belief that all humans are loved equally by God.
So not only should Christians not seclude themselves from the rest of the world, but we should engage the world and be able to speak to our beliefs.
The essence of the Gospel is that we are all sinners in need of God’s love and forgiveness. So speaking out publicly on issues should be done with humility. We don’t speak out because we are perfect and have everything figured out, but because we desire righteousness and for justice to prevail.
One example of this is throughout the New Testament book of Acts, where the apostle Paul repeatedly confronts those in the city he traveled to through public speeches. It is was not enough for Paul to sit quietly hoping someone would ask him what he believed.
We like to view Jesus as this lovey-dovey, sheep holding, coffee drinking, hipster (no offense to any hipsters out there), who did nothing but condemn religions leaders and told everyone just to love everyone. And while he certainly commanded us to love one another just as he himself loved us, Jesus was very explicit about God’s judgment, holiness, and righteousness. He said things like he himself was the only way unto salvation (John 14:6). Read Jesus’ most well know sermon (the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-6), and you will see how he calls us to live holy lives.
So as followers of Jesus, we should absolutely not be afraid to speak about sticky issues of our day. We must strive to do so in loving ways, but we can’t forget that the Gospel itself is offensive. It tells us that you and I are sinners deserving of God’s eternal judgment (not what our culture, or anyone, wants to hear), and that only through the death and resurrection of Jesus who took our punishment can we have forgiveness and eternal life.
Will people be offended by the Gospel and by beliefs that stem from the Gospel? Absolutely. But we cannot afford to stay silent, that would be the most unloving thing to do.