LentBlog 2015, Day 40: Towards Outsiders…

Colossians 4:2-6, NRSV:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.[a]Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.


We live in the great State of Indiana. I like Indiana. I grew up here, and being back in the state after 16+ years away is in some ways like putting on an old, well-fitting T-shirt. In some other ways, though, it’s also like a bad Twilight Zone trip.

This week, the Indiana governor signed a bill into law that supposedly promotes something like “religious freedom.” Lots of right-wing, politically conservative Christians are celebrating in the streets, touting a major victory. Lots of centrist and left-wing, politically liberal Christians are shouting just as loudly, claiming this new law is a license to discriminate.

I’m left shaking my head. My non-Christian friends are taking to their Facebook walls and Twitter accounts  pointing out that we all look like a bunch of idiots.

I haven’t read the whole law. I know I need to. We celebrated Sabbath today and did a sum-total of not much around the house.

But here’s the deal for me tonight: this passage from Colossians calls us to:

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.[a]Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders. Towards folks not yet in the faith. Towards folks who might not believe God even exists, let alone that Jesus is the savior. Towards folks who live as if they haven’t met Jesus, not forgetting that some folks in the church act as if they haven’t met Jesus.

Let your speech be gracious to them. Now repeat that. LET YOUR SPEECH BE GRACIOUS TO THEM.

Folks, in the midst of Facebook wars, boycott threats, and “religious freedom” acts, could we please… like, pretty please with sugar on top… stop trying to win some culture war and start seeing people with Kingdom eyes? PLEASE? 

It seems to me the role of the Kingdom in this world is not to defend my rights. It seems to me we’ve got far too much work to do living-out prevenient grace to spend too much time worrying about such things. Because here’s the thing: as Christians called to live out a Kingdom ethic, we will not agree with the lifestyle choices many people make. It happens. But our speech, our attitudes, our politics, and for Pete’s sake our Tweets and Facebook posts can and must be gracious. And if that means someone infringes my “rights” every so often, so be it. We’ve got bigger fish to fry and a much more redemptive calling.

Blessings,

Mark

Advertisements

LentBlog Day 7: Too Small A Thing…

Stefanie and I went to the NEI District (That’s Northeastern Indiana District Church of the Nazarene for those of you playing at home) Discipleship Ministries Spirit Rally last night with Dr. Dan Boone preaching. We got back late, and I wanted to blog about it briefly but honestly, I fell asleep staring at an empty blog page.

Essentially, Dan preached on being the people of God in Exile from Isaiah 40-55. One of the main reminders from our time together was a quote from Isaiah 49:6. God says to those in exile,

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
    to restore the tribes of Jacob
    and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

He challenges those in exile to look beyond just the restoration of their “good ole days” fortunes in times gone by when things were good, comfortable, and “successful.”  It turns out God has bigger fish to fry than that. God is a creative God who is about to do something new, and the people have set their sights too low. It’s a small thing to merely restore the good ole days. God has an entire world to redeem and he intends to use these exiles to do just that.

What if we, too, have set our sights too low? As we long for the good ole days where Christian values and ethics were (at least on the surface) the dominant shaping force in culture, we could very well ignore that God has WAY bigger fish to fry than Christians winning some culture war to bring back days gone by. He’s got a bigger vision for us than that…

…if we’ll embrace it.

Blessings,

Mark