“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike Christ.” Mohandas Gandhi
Richard Stearns in his book, The Hole in Our Gospel says, “According to Barna researchers, as recently as 1996, 85% of ‘outsiders’ - individuals who had no strong religious convictions themselves—still felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. But just 10 years later, only 16% of them had a good impression of Christianity. One interviewee put it this way: ‘Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, antigay, antichoice, angry, violent, illogical, empire builders; they want to convert everyone and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.’ (pg. 227)
When we hear things like this we evangelicals tend to say, “That’s the price you pay when you take a stand against evil.” There’s a lot of truth in that reaction. We gladly accept the label of not being politically correct but choosing rather to stand with the word of God. There is much evil in our world and the follower of Christ must not compromise with that evil. But while we speak out against the evil we are to remember that the Bible’s way to overcome evil is to do good (Romans 12:21). James reminds us there is harmony and balance between the need for purity and the need for good deeds when he says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). I think it is fair to say that the average evangelical church puts much more emphasis on keeping oneself unspotted from the world (don’t do wrong) than on visiting widows and orphans (do right). Could it be that we are identified by what we don’t do more than what we do? Could it be that we have become more known for what we’re against than what we’re for? Could this be one reason the world’s perception of us is so unfavorable?
I think if James were alive today he would say, “God’s people, when you stand against homosexuality show compassion to the victims of HIV-AIDS. When you stand against abortion minister to unwed mothers.” We lose our credibility when we speak out against sin without showing good deeds to sin’s victims. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He did it so much that the religious crowd of His day called Him a friend of sinners and they didn’t mean it as a compliment!
I am in no way saying we should soften our stand on what the Bible clearly defines as sin as some in the church seem to be doing. In an effort to be more acceptable to the world some are compromising with the world. What I am saying is let’s take an honest look at the possibility that we have become unbalanced; stressing “do not sin” more than “do good.” Let’s consider the possibility that our understandable anger over what sin is doing to our country and our people has not been tempered with love and good deeds.
When Peter introduced Jesus Christ to the Gentiles in Acts 10 to prepare them to hear the gospel he described Him by saying; “...how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him”(Acts 10:38)
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21