I was blessed with the opportunity to have breakfast with Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, this morning. I loved hearing his heart for how we must more effectively model Jesus as we engage with the culture. He admitted that, while the intentions of Focus over the years have always been good, it has been very easy for the world to misinterpret their goals. When we draw lines in the sand and build a fortress of righteousness around our position on an issue, it isolates people from hearing the good news of the gospel. He is trying to fight against that. (He has a book coming out in October that addresses this deliberate shift in approach, called ReFocus.)
Here's a brief paraphrase of the strategy he is attempting to implement: "More humility, more love...less judgement."
While he said that Christians must not compromise on our principles, we can do a lot better job of interacting in love with those we disagree with. I agree wholeheartedly. My experience is that very few people on the other side of an issue are won over because we make a better argument than they do.
When we heard him speak on Tuesday night, he pointed us to a challenge in Titus 3:1-5:
"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."
If conservative Christians are honest, we will admit that we haven't always treated people with the kindness and consideration that the scripture commands. At times, particularly on issues of a political or social nature, we have been outright hostile, giving little consideration to the hearts of souls of those we disagree with. Of this, we need to repent.
One thing Jim said that impacted me is that the church needs to start holding each other accountable to the high standards we tend to hold lost people to. What right do we have to malign the condition of marriage in our world when our divorce rate is similar to the general population?
In other words, we shouldn't be surprised or shocked when sinners sin.
What should concern us most is the sin within our own ranks. Someone once taught about working on the plank in our own eye before pointing out the splinter in someone else's. Oh yeah....that was Jesus. We would be wise to obey Him.
My prayer today has been this: "Lord, may we humbly thank you for saving us from our disobedience and foolishness. And may we, with great compassion, demonstrate the amazing grace you have offered us to a world that desperately needs you, especially when it is obvious that they don't know you."