As some of you know, I have a new book coming out tomorrow. It’s titled, ReFocus: Living a Life that Reflects God’s Heart. My colleagues at Citizenlink recently asked me five questions about the project. I’m delighted to share the exchange with you below.
CitizenLink: The title of your new book is ReFocus. Why do you believe it’s time we must begin to refocus our hearts and actions?
Jim Daly: I think that in the culture we’ve focused a lot on righteousness and living righteously. And that is obviously important. But we have to look at God’s grace, too. Truth is important, but God’s love is critically important as well. It’s what opens the ear and the heart of those that oppose us. We have to remember that those who don’t agree with our faith, or our ideology, or our religion are not the enemy. They are men and women, like us, created in the image of God and deserving of our respect.
That’s what I’m getting at with “ReFocus.” Let’s refocus ourselves, look at making sure we’re offering as much love to the culture as we are truth.
CL: What are a couple of ways we can begin to positively engage with others of different beliefs and values?
JD: One of the easiest ways is to get engaged in your neighborhood. Go somewhere where non-believers congregate. Go to a lunch place where you can actually become a regular and people there get to know you. Engage with people different than you. Befriend them. And have fun with it.
You know, Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners and really mixing it up with people who were of the world. That’s what the Pharisees didn’t like about Him, yet it’s the modeling that Jesus did for us and for the disciples. And it changed the world.
CL: Americans often get caught up in wanting to change the beliefs of others, to the point where no good is being done. What can we do right here, right now to make a difference?
JD: So often right now in the Christian culture, we’re expecting the world to act like the church, and we’re very grace-filled toward the church acting like the world. We need to turn that around. And one way to do that is to live out our faith in front of the world in such a way that it glorifies the Lord and brings honor to Him, in our marriages, in our families, in every area of our life. And if we’re doing that like the early church did in the first and second century, living out the truth of God’s Word in ways that show honor and respect to all people, even those who don’t agree with us, I think this world will change quickly.
CL: A study mentioned in ReFocus indicates that among younger Americans, few believe religious issues are important. How must the church react and prepare for this growing divide?
JD: The church and the claims of Christ and the Gospel are as relevant to young people today as they were 40, 50 years ago. So, when we look at this divide, I think it’s partly caused by the fact that they’re not so much into the culture war. They like the idea of showing God’s grace and God’s love.
But we have to encourage them to stand firm on truth while they’re doing that. And I think that’s the divide. I think younger Christians tend to look at the older Christian community and think that all we want to do is pound down someone’s throat the idea of righteousness. Well, we need that balance, and when we strike it — standing for God’s truth with Christ’s heart — I think all people are attracted to it, young and old.
CL: We’re at the peak of the contentious 2012 presidential election. How do Christians balance their biblical values and their influence with a secular culture?
JD: First of all, I don’t think we should bend in principle to any culture. So you can’t forfeit those principles. But we have to be mindful of the way in which we do it, the tone with which we do it. If we’re simply politically partisan in how we express our opinions, you know what? We should just become conservative radio talk show hosts. The Lord calls us to something far more, and that’s the transcendent values that are expressed in Scripture. That’s a vision worth refocusing on.
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