So much of what we see and hear on the radio, television, and the Internet is rooted in fear, anger, and, an “us against them” mentality. If you package the news, your product, or your cause in a fear, anger, and conflict; people will definitely take notice. That is exactly what is happening in our society today. All sides are fed from sensationalism that has one major goal in mind – to get us riled up, angry, and afraid. We see it from both the left and the right. We see it from national issues to local issues. We see it from people who espouse no faith at all to those who claim to be devout Christians.
There is no doubt that the culture of the United States (and the world) is rapidly changing and, as Christians, many of the changes are very disheartening. As we see these changes happening, it is easy to get caught up in the anger, fear, and conflict. Yet, we are commanded to, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. ‘ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” – Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV).
How can we keep from getting freaked out by and not sucked into this whirlwind of anger, fear, and distrust? Here are five ways that we can shine like stars in the sky in the midst of the darkness?
- Become informed
“I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.” Well we know that is not true. Yet, we often receive what is said by those “on our side” as being the truth. Whether it is a talk radio host, tv newscasters, politician, or even a preacher; we often accept what they say as being correct. What if their sources are incorrect? What if they are sharing only part of the story? Check out the facts. Make sure what you hear is not tainted or slanted for the purpose of making a point. Most of all turn to the whole counsel of God’s Word. It is easy to key in on scripture that talks about marriage, sexual identity, abortion, and immorality. However, in doing so have we left out what God’s Word says about loving our neighbor, protecting the poor and helpless, respecting the dignity of all mankind? What does the Bible say about how we are to treat those who believe differently from us?
- Make love your primary response
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” ( Luke 10:27). When asked, “who is my neighbor”, Jesus told the parable we know as the “Good Samaritan”. In this parable Jesus uses a Samaritan who was robbed and beaten as as an example of who our neighbor is. Samaritans were both despised and hated by the audience to which Jesus was speaking. Yet, in this parable Jesus said that they were to love the Samaritans just as they loved their own lives.What do we think about and talk about when we encounter those whose lifestyles and actions are against God’s Word? According to Jesus our first response should be to love them.
- Point “Chicken Little” Christians to God’s Word
Many Christians are like Chicken Little in the children’s story. They talk about how horrible everything is and that this is the end of our society. Everything is gloom and doom for them. Their focus is constantly negative and they see no hope for the future. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have an obligation to help them see things from God’s perspective. The way to do that is to point them to the Word. His Word is truth. The clatter coming from newsrooms, politicians, and talk-radio hosts is not truth. We need to help them see how God desires that we live in this world that is not our home. We need to help them see what God’s Word says about how we should interact with those who do not know him.
- Pray for our changing society
When it come to praying for culture, there are two main areas we should focus upon. First, we should be praying for our government leaders. We are commanded as Christians to do this (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We often do more complaining, however, than we do praying when it comes to our political leaders. Second, we should be praying for those who have lifestyles and/or agendas that are counter to God’s Word. They are not the enemy. They are blinded by the true enemy, Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). We should be continually pleading before God that their spiritual blindness be removed.
- Move out into the world and engage them
We are not called to be a people who hunker down in our own little “admiration society”. We are a people that God has called to engage a world that does not know him. We are called to be Christ’s witnesses in our own neighborhoods, cities, country, and the world through the power of God’s Spirit (Acts 1:8). We must move beyond the church walls to engage those whose lifestyles we disagree with. We must not expect or wait for them to come to us. We must meet them where they work, where they play, and where they live. We must step into their world with love and respect while holding up the truth of God with gentleness and kindness.
It is easy to get freaked out by the rapid changes in our society. Especially the changes that go counter to God’s Word. Our only hope is in the One Sovereign God. He is all knowing, all powerful, and all present and nothing that is happening in our society is a shock to him.