Should Christians befriend members of the homosexual or transgendered community?
Should Christians engage in the political process?
If so, what hope should we place in the government for resolution to society’s problems?
Should Christians attend a friend’s same-sex wedding? What if the ceremony is for a parent’s son or daughter?
I frequently get questions like these when I travel and have an opportunity to meet you, friends of Focus on the Family. I appreciate hearing your perspective because it helps me keep a finger on the pulse of the family and the Christian community.
I can tell you that the emotion you’re sharing with me is palpable. The culture is in a moral freefall, and there’s grave concern from many of you about the challenges we’re already facing and those we may encounter in the future.
And with good reason.
Christians haven’t had to face cultural moral dilemmas to the degree we do now since our nation was founded. What’s more, as seismic shifts continue to erupt within the culture, many more social conflicts will undoubtedly surface.
All of which leads me to perhaps the most important question of all:
In the midst of a society that is morally adrift and increasingly hostile to the Gospel, how does the church keep its equilibrium and stay true to the principles upon which it is founded?
Here to walk us through the answers to these and other questions is Dr. Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a former Focus on the Family board member.
According to Dr. Mohler, the cultural circumstances we find ourselves in today are in large part because the church remained silent at a time of tremendous culture upheaval:
We failed. It was a massive failure on the part of the church. Where we should’ve spoken, we were silent. Where we should’ve confronted the issue head-on, the church was fearful. The awakening of the Christian conscience came in the last part of the 1970’s, the early 1980’s when Christians all of a sudden began to understand something has happened. We should have noticed it before. We should’ve confronted it before. But the awakening of the Evangelical conscience didn’t come until a decade after these big changes had taken place.”
As a result, the predominant Christian culture as most of us have understood it has largely disappeared in America. That has tremendous implications moving forward for Christians striving to engage those with an opposing worldview.
Part of the answer for turning that around lies in the church finding its way back to making the main thing the main thing again. The bulk of the New Testament, I believe, exhorts us to boldly communicate the message of salvation through Christ alone, but to season it with love and grace.
Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Let us season our words and attitudes with grace but speak from a deep biblical knowledge and understanding of the Christian worldview that will not only transform us, but (God willing) transform our neighbors.
Dr. Mohler warns: “We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs.” That’s why I believe the church’s primary objective ought to be creating disciples whose beliefs have been transformed, not simply demanding an unredeemed culture to behave according to our Christian worldview.
As Dr. Mohler says, “Mainstream Christianity has always had its closest heresy in moralism. Behavior is important, but belief in Christ is fundamental, primary, and eternal in its consequences.”
Is the local church supposed to be made up of people who already think like us, believe like us, act like us, parent like us, and engage the culture like us? Or is it supposed to be a place where people will come to find hope in Christ even if they don’t understand the fullness of how that belief will transform their lives?
If it’s not the latter, then it’s not the churches we see in the New Testament.
On yesterday’s and today’s program, “Speaking Up When the Culture Wants Silence,” Dr. Mohler helps us explore how to speak truth to our culture in a loving, grace-filled way, yet with a confidence and boldness that can open people’s hearts and minds. I hope you’ll join us.
And I hope you’ll let me know what you think. If I haven’t had the privilege of meeting you, I’d love to read your thoughts below. What is the greatest challenge you believe the Christian church faces moving forward? How do you think we should respond to a culture that has turned its back on Christ?