As I’ve been preaching through the gospel of John at Revolution Church this year, I am blown away by the conversations Jesus has with people. There is a difference in the way Jesus talked to them, his expectations for people outside of Christianity compared with today.
It always strikes me as interesting when Christians talk about the culture, politics, current issues and are surprised when people who don’t follow Jesus act like they don’t follow Jesus.
Why are we surprised?
If Christians believe that the gospel changes us (which we do), then we should expect someone who has been changed by that truth to live and act a certain way. The New Testament writers did. That’s what all the NT letters are about, how to live and act as the body of Christ. Paul did it one way in 1 Corinthians, a different way in Philippians and James and Peter added their own takes to it.
Here are a couple ideas on how to interact with this culture in light of this:
- If you are a follower of Jesus, live like it. One of the best ways to move the gospel forward is to live like the gospel has changed you. Too many people who attend church every week do not live, think, feel any different from those who claim to not follow Jesus. As I said this past week in a sermon, a follower of Jesus should be obvious because they will have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22 – 23).
- Give space for those exploring Jesus to explore. Your church, community group, missional community should be a place where those who don’t know Jesus feel comfortable asking questions and exploring Jesus. You should be the kind of person those who don’t know Jesus feel comfortable being around. Too many Christians don’t know how to be friends with people who don’t know Jesus, let alone share their faith with them. Be a good friend. Be someone who can be counted on, trusted, respected. This goes a long way in sharing the gospel.
- Have a community/life that is attractive to those who don’t know Jesus. Same thing as above. If you are a pastor, how many people who don’t know Jesus do you see coming through your doors each week? How many people are getting baptized? Following Jesus? If the answer is low, you do not have an attractive community for the gospel.
- Lovingly confront sin. If you are around humans, you will need to learn how to lovingly confront sin, the NT calls us to this. Over and over, community is to pull people aside and confront the sin in their lives with the truth of the gospel. Christians are good at shouting about the truth, but terrible at doing this in a loving way. Don’t be passive aggressive. Remember how broken you are when confronting someone. And confront someone the way you would want to be confronted.
- Lovingly confront Christians who are unloving to those who don’t know Jesus. When you hear Christians point their fingers, turn their noses up, or expect not yet Christians in your church to act like Christians, lovingly confront them. Tell them how great it is that someone felt comfortable to put their cigarette out in the parking lot, at least they are there. Roll the red carpet out for not yet Christians by teaching Christians to love.