Friday, March 6, 2015

Let's Bring Out the God-Colors in the World

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven
(Matthew 5:16, The Message)

I understand why most nonChristians believe that Christians are only concerned with converting people and getting them into heaven. If you are part of my generation, you remember the crusades, revivals and worship services that ended with invitations to come forward and be saved. Those who did were immediately paraded across the front of the church and declared Christians. For a couple of generations, the emphasis was placed solely on that conversion moment.

In some ways, this is understandable. Christians know that salvation is important. But the truth is, we have put the cart before the horse. We have communicated that we want people to believe something that is critical to their lives before they know us, have experienced us or have received anything from us… and before we know them.

If we were able to rewrite the script for the reputation of Christianity, I think we would put the emphasis on developing relationships with nonbelievers, serving them, loving them, and making them feel accepted. Only then would we earn the right to share the gospel. Their acceptance by us would not be predicated on their willingness to accept Christ. After all, God loved us before we were lovable; God loved the whole world before the world knew anything about him. This should be our model.

Here’s my advice to Christians who want to change culture’s perception of Christianity: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” In other words, do something that causes people to look favourably in God’s direction. I still believe that everyone spends eternity somewhere. If that’s the case, getting this right isn’t a marginal issue. It is the issue.

Andy Stanley
Senior Pastor, North Point Ministries, Atlanta, GA.
Quote from Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Fermi Project (Baker Books, 2007) pg. 88-89
Original title as ‘Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse’

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