Standing for Christian Values vs. Standing for Christ

spread christ, not christian values

When missionaries trek across the world in Jesus’ name, they have a short list of two priorities (after things like “pack 3 years worth of undies” or “don’t forget malaria medicine”They are:

 

  1. Don’t offend the people.
  2. Share the Good News.

 

My in-laws have worked for Christ in Africa for 2 decades now and are keenly aware of the necessity of  putting these principles in the proper order.

 

When new to a country, their first step in evangelism is not to oppose political legislation that differs from Christian values. Changing a law doesn’t change a heart. 

 

When going to a new village to sew seeds of love and grace in the name of Jesus, their first order of business is not to opp0se the village practices of polygamy. Changing a practice doesn’t change a heart.

 

The number one job of a missionary is not to spread “Christian values”.  The number one job of a missionary is to spread Christ. <– tweet this

 

It is imperative that we do not confuse the two. If you spread Christ, the values will follow.  It does not work the other way around. You cannot put the spiritual chicken before the egg.

 

Once a missionary has made friends with a culture and the soil is ripe for the Gospel, there are two things to consider in the delivery:

 

  1. Is this loving?
  2. Is this effective?

 

It’s been statistically proven that some tactics of sharing the Good News do more harm than good – particularly ones attacking and judgmental in nature.  These methods are not loving or effective and they can easily turn people off to Jesus – not because the cross offends them but because the Christian offends them.  If we are to be known by our love and make disciples we cannot begin by alienating and offending.

 

We are missionaries to whatever country we live in and the same principles stand whether we’re in Nigeria or America.

 

Our first step in evangelism cannot be to oppose political legislation that differs from Christian values. Changing a law doesn’t change a heart.

 

When going into a new neighborhood to sew seeds of love and grace in Jesus’ name, our first order of business cannot be to oppose the practices of gay marriage. Changing a practice doesn’t change a heart.

 

We must not put the chicken before the Holy Spirit egg.  Jesus comes first.  Love, grace, and acceptance comes first.  Discipleship comes later.

 

That is why I am not among the Christians that stand up in opposition to gay marriage (amoung other things).  If we are in the Father and He is in us, then we will be reflections of the mercy and grace found in Christ (who dined with those we oppose).  We must stop standing on soapboxes disguised as moral imperatives simply because someone else’s “brand” of sin bothers us more than others.

 

Christ dined with and died for all.  We must look deeper, love harder, and lift Christ higher.

 

-Jessica

 

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Comments

  1. I’m crying as I read this. I wish more Christians were like you Jessica. Thank you for being who you are and not being afraid to say it.
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  2. I agree!
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  3. I liked everything you said. However, the thing to remember is that standing up for biblical values will always cause conflict in our culture. If you choose to do that, then scripture(Jesus) is clear about homosexuality. It’s offensive because it goes against culture, but we, as Christians, don’t have to be offensive in our love for people. Unfortunately, this gay marriage issue has become a side show. The reality is people who profess Christ as Savior and live in a homosexual lifestyle are living in direct conflict with scripture. This is not a Christian standard, this is God’s standard. If someone is living in a homosexual lifestyle and does not know Christ, then we shouldnt expect anything different. But we should always love well as Christians. Like you, policy doesn’t change lifestyles, but Jesus will. But you or me standing up for or against gay marriage doesn’t change the standard God sets. We must choose will we follow completely all that Christ (the bible) says and try to impact culture where we can; or will we be selective about the stance we take. God’s standard is hard and quite often I don’t like it. But I believe his character and sovereignty enough to follow it.

    • Jessica says:

      I think spreading Christ’s love his how we impact our culture. I do find it interesting that homosexuality is “the big one” for most Christians. We don’t spend nearly as much energy insisting that you get your obesity or impatience under control after becoming a Christian, ya know? I’m sort of just putting that out there – not defending anything.

      • The problem lies in the fact that so many Christians are willing to deem homosexuality acceptable and have twisted scripture to back up that claim. I’m not talking about non-Christians. They will live as they choose and that’s fine. But when believers begin to celebrate and defend sin, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed. No one is trying to legalize obesity or impatience. Yes, of course those are issues that need to be addressed, but they are not issues that are being forced upon us in a political realm.

        The fact of the matter is we do have to make a choice whether or not to defend marriage. Ballots are reflecting that need to make a choice and we have to decide if we are going to vote or not vote. This is more than just a small, passing issue. It’s a big issue being shoved right in our faces. We have to act. If not, then we choose to sit idly by and let others make the decisions for us.

        I agree that when dealing with others face to face the only response should be that of love and grace. But I do not agree that we should sit back passively for fear of offending. If we are acting in grace, we can still stand by the principles of God’s standard without offending.

        • Jessica says:

          While I disagree that we have to defend marriage, I hope I haven’t come across as celebrating or defending sin. It is not my intention.

  4. Plain.And.Simple.YOU.ROCK!

  5. What a POWERFUL post!!
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  6. While I understand what you’re saying, I think there are things you are willing to offend people over, because you think it is wrong. NASCAR, women wearing too much make-up, Christians living in the bible belt, fat people, etc. I hate, hate, hate to offend people, but sometimes there are things that we all feel it is worth offending people or stepping on toes. Non-Christians shouldn’t be held to Christian standards, but does that mean we have to stay silent? I think it would be impossible to live or believe without offending people.
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    • And to be fair, you may have changed your stance on these issues. If not, I am curious as to what the difference is?
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    • Jessica says:

      The key is, this post isn’t about people in general, it’s about people who aren’t Christians. I think there is a very distinct difference between addressing issues (or “offending”) Christians vs. non-Christians. Jesus raked the pharisees over the coals repeatedly, because they should’ve known better, or needed to know better. He was pretty much nothing but graceful to the non-believers.

      Although that’s not to say that I always get my approach right. This issue is a great example, I had an issue that bothered me deeply that I wanted to address (toward Christians), but I came at it from the wrong angle the first time with my post Friday. So I started over. :)

  7. “When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.” John 2:15

    Jesus was not tolerant of sin.

    Yes! We are absolutely supposed to show Christ’s love to the world. But that does not mean tolerating sin. And expressing a preference for “traditional” family values, is not the same as hating homosexuals. You can love gay folks and not condone what they do, the same way I love gossips and liars and selfish folks. We are ALL sinners. So yes, we love and minister the Lord’s grace and goodness to unbelievers and sinners of all kinds, but we don’t condone their sinful behavior by looking the other way and letting them “do their thing” in peace. THAT is not love. Because when we tolerate sin, we deny that it IS sin. Until someone recognizes that they are sinner, they cannot seek God’s forgiveness for their sins. So yes, love and grace and acceptance of the INDIVIDUAL. But we never show an acceptance or tolerance of sin, either in believers or non-believers. To tolerate it is to condone it, and to condone it is to have a hand in the death sentence that will be handed down to that unrepentant sinner. THAT is NOT love.

    If we’re going to “tolerate” homosexuality and gay marriage, where do we stop? There was a time when adultery was prosecuted. In most states it’s still illegal, but no one is prosecuted for it. Same with homosexuality. These laws, based on the moral code found in the Bible, are being tossed aside. What’s next– rape? Child sex predators? Bestiality? I mean, how much farther into the darkness of sexual sin do we need to go before we start standing up and saying “THIS IS SIN!”

    I know you’re trying to take the path less traveled, trying to go against the flow, not get stuck in a stampede of Christian Evangelicals who you may see as being driven toward an unpleasant destination. And I respect you for that. But I also believe that you’re going off your own, and society’s, wisdom, rather than the Lord’s on this one. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re a hoot and I love reading your stuff and want to learn from you, but I think you’re wrong here. Not ENTIRELY wrong, but enough that I feel compelled to point it out.

    • Jessica says:

      I agree about Jesus not tolerating sin – but I think it’s important to note that Jesus cracked that whip at the religious people, not a room full of gays – see my comment above to Amy.

      This post is about evangelism methods. And truly, my mother-in-law has told me that when they go into a village where the chief has multiple wives they don’t say a word about it – because it’s not the issue of highest priority. Later, down the road, it can be addressed.

      • I think the problem is, is that it’s coming not our churches. There are people living homosexual lifestyles that are believers and that go to church. There are churches supporting their lifestyle. If same sex marriage becomes legalized, churches will be forced into saying “yes, I realize it’s legal, but I can’t marry you in our church”. I think this is why it’s such a big deal. It’s difficult to separate it into a Christian/ non-Christian thing, because what we support for one group, we will be supporting for the other.

        And for the record, my big thing is abortion, not same sex marriage. :-)
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    • JennaK said: >> If we’re going to “tolerate” homosexuality and gay marriage, where do we stop? There was a time when adultery was prosecuted. <> how much farther into the darkness of sexual sin do we need to go before we start standing up and saying “THIS IS SIN!” <<

      I think Jessica's whole point is, saying "this is SIN" is an utterly meaningless statement to an unsaved world. Why should someone who doesn't believe in God allow Christians to set laws and policies that dictate their behavior based on our beliefs? Jessica is talking about bringing the gospel to the unsaved, and you are talking about politics (telling people what they can and cannot do, whether they agree or not).

      Making homosexuality illegal again, or even keeping homosexual marriage illegal, is not going to save one single, solitary soul.

  8. So…suppose you have a non-believing brother who is in a committed, homosexual relationship. Said brother and his partner want to visit you and stay with you in your home. You welcome them, but ask them to sleep separately while in your home. You say this is not a homosexual issue, you would ask the same of an unmarried heterosexual couple. You are accused of being intolerant, unloving, even a bigot. Said brother no longer wants to have anything to do with you because of your beliefs. (Even though you have very lovingly and honestly explained that you aren’t asking them not to be gay, you are simply asking them not to sleep together in your home). Are you wrong for imposing such a boundary within your home – a home that claims “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”? Are you misrepresenting Christ or are you standing firm for what you believe?
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    • If it makes you feel any better, that can be a hot topic regardless of of sexual orientation. Many many years ago we asked the same of a heterosexual couple – with explosive results. Though I can see how a homosexual couple would be even more sensitive of the issue because they’re discriminated against in most areas of life. Sorry for your troubles. :(

      • It’s been two hard years. Every time I try to make things better with him, I end up making it worse. He’s my only sibling and the non-existent relationship with him is also hard for my parents. They each have a relationship with him, but it kills them that he won’t have anything to do with me. Big sigh.
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  9. “Making homosexuality illegal again, or even keeping homosexual marriage illegal, is not going to save one single, solitary soul.”

    BRILLIANT!

    Can I quote you? ;-)

  10. While I separate my opposition of gay marriage into political and religious (I do not think that putting Christian values into politics is effective, but certainly oppose gay marriage personally), I agree with you whole heartedly on the role of a missionary. The role of a missionary is to spread the good news, to support and encourage those who hear it, and let Christ do the convicting. Thanks for the reminder.
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