by Laurie Nichols
Answer: Who knows.
Question: How many people pass by us every day and have no idea that we are Christian?
If we are being honest, the answer is: Too many.
And then the excuses begin: “I’m too busy.” “I have four kids I am trying to manage.” “I am having a bad day.” “I don’t really know how to engage with others.”
Sure, some or all of these might be true, but as Christians begin to engage in a culture that seems to change as quickly as technology, it is imperative we keep up with the changes. Jesus has called us to be “wise as serpents but innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). To list the cultural changes that have occurred over the past year or two would take too long, but last year we did a series on the changing culture.
Suffice to say that, Christian, you are now in the minority opinion and belief with the rise of the “nones” among others.
And if we were ever certain of this, it’s that evangelism mustn’t—can’t—go out of style. We are at a critical time when evangelism done right can change our world one heart at a time. The recent Target Corporation debacle presents us with a great example of how Christians are to be transformed by a “renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2). I say “debacle” because of the way both sides are handling the situation. On one side are progressive, left-leaners affirming the bathroom policy while spewing out age-old rhetoric on how Christians are “haters.” On the other side are Christians so incensed by the policy that they have come in mass droves to #boycotttarget at all costs. Problem with that is that many other places have similar affirmations of LGBT rights.
Recently, Christianity Today put out an article calling for Christians to reconsider their boycott and instead be salt and light. Sure, the point is well taken, but here is the real question: How many Christians who will continue to go to Target actually be salt and light when they are shopping in their local stores? Will you? Will I? Or will we simply go about our visit, excuses in hand, and say we are continuing to shop there because we seek to be “witnesses for Jesus” instead of the real reason, which is we are too lazy to change where we shop (and where will we go, anyways?)?
Calling for Christians to be salt and light is serious business, and too often it’s offered without the foundational resources and tools to help Christians do just that. Authors stop with the extortion to “go and be witnesses in these dark places,” but how many of us actually follow that advice?
If we think our culture is changing quickly now, wait five years. Without our salt and light dripping off us in every nook and corner we visit, the darkness of not only the world but also of people’s own pains and sufferings grow deeper and more painful.
Sure, boycott Target. Or don’t. But whatever you do, be salt and light. When you visit a local store:
- Ask the checkout person how he/she is doing. How long he/she has worked there. Does he/she like it? Why, why not?
- Notice someone who seems sad and burdened. Ask him/her how he/she is. Is there anything he/she needs? Can I help you in any way?
- Smile to all the passing people and ask them how they are. If you notice someone hesitate, stop for a few minutes to check in.
- And if all you get is dissed by the end of doing all of these things, pray to God for each individual you interacted with. Pray that God would light up their hearts with the gospel of love.
And to prepare your heart for gospel witness, the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism has created the resource below for you to use. Sit with God and honestly answer your way through these questions. Be honest about how serious you are about being salt and light. Ask God to give you the desire, boldness, humility, and character to be his ambassador in this world. And then watch and see what God will do.
Laurie Fortunak Nichols is editor of the Gospel Life blog. She is also director of communications at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College and managing editor for Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ).