by Ed Stetzer, with Chris Martin
(Editor’s note: This is the final in a 9-part series on Finding Our Gospel Voice in a Changing Culture.)
Over the course of the last few weeks, we’ve been running this series called “Finding Our Gospel Voice in a Changing Culture.” I have been blessed by the series, and I hope our readers have been as well. A lot is changing in our culture, and it’s important to stand firmly on the truth of the gospel amidst an ever-morphing cultural atmosphere around us.
I was assigned the last post in the series, so I’m going to briefly summarize where we’ve been and provide a final word of encouragement as the Church continues to wrestle with how we live in a country in which we have lost our home field advantage.
Right out of the chute, R. York Moore discusses how we might love others with whom we disagree in the digital age: “Instead of picturing enemies on the other side of the ‘send’ button, before we post, what would it look like if we pictured potential family members and loved ones?”
Laurie Nichols, who graciously manages the EvangelVision blog, wrote the second post. She admonishes Christians to shed the “unlovable” label. She concluded her post strongly, writing, “Nobody is unlovable. It’s time to do the hard work of making sure our witness conveys that with authenticity and humility.”
When it feels like much of culture hates Christians, and when we’re faced with the difficult task of upholding basic things like marriage and children, it’s easy to forget the people who don’t like us are still people. It’s easy for us to care about issues more than the people who disagree with us on the issues. In the third post, JR Rozko dealt with the importance of remembering the imago Dei. He writes, “Beholding the imago Dei in others won’t solve all the political discord the Church finds itself enmeshed in, but it offers an opportunity to navigate it with integrity.”
Evi Rodemann gives some important words about engaging with people who are different from us. Whether we’re talking with people from different ethnic backgrounds or people who disagree with us on important moral issues, the sheer reality of difference can be scary. She writes, “Never let fear control you in getting to know people from other backgrounds. You might miss THE opportunity!”
I’m thankful for the work of Beth Seversen. She wrote the post after Evi and focuses on the importance of humility. Check out this line: “We can choose to become real and unexpected friends with non-Christians while still affirming our faith in Jesus and maintaining gracious convictions.”
Dave Short shares about how getting “lost” on the mission field taught him that the Holy Spirit ensures we’re never “alone,” and Dave Souther writes about the importance of reading and believing God’s Word.
Byron Spradlin shows us what it looks like to evangelize in a way that embodies grace. He writes, “I’m convinced that unless we experience God’s love for us, in us, and through us, we won’t really ‘do’ evangelism at all.”
Finally, as we wrap up the blog series, I want to share just a few brief thoughts on how our evangelism is impacted in a changing culture while Jesus is still on his throne.
#1: Don’t Worry
As culture continues to change, and, particularly in our Western world, is moving in a more secular direction, some Christians react in fear. That’s unwise and unhelpful. A person only panics if he or she has lost hope—and our hope was never in our culture.
We should want the best for our communities and the people around us, so being concerned with the cultural trajectory is worthwhile, but not a reason to fear. It’s a reason to be faithful. The more time people spend worrying (an unbiblical idea, by the way), the less time we’ll spend showing and sharing the love of Jesus.
Not living in fear is not the whole story, though. Plenty of non-Christians live perfectly content, fear-free lives. What distinguishes the hope of the Christian in the changing culture is not a lack of worry and fear, but the presence of trust.
#2: Trust and Talk about Jesus
When Christians are faced with life and ministry in a culture that is more secular, we must still remember—even though they don’t know it—that Jesus is the hope of the world (and of our faith). Whether you’re showing the love of Jesus by serving your community or sharing the love of Jesus at grocery store with a clerk, you must trust the God who saved you in Christ to be the one who emboldens you in the Holy Spirit.
The hope of the gospel is what sets Christians apart no matter the ethical atmosphere or cultural climate of the day. We will be reviled for the name of Jesus, and it’s in Him we have to place our trust in order to faithfully share the good news in the changing culture.
As followers of Christ, we’ve been called to carry our cross in order to make His name more widely known. Thankfully, He already died on it for us, and it’s in Him we find our hope—not the culture.
Amidst the shifting sands, we have a Solid Rock.
Tell the world about that Solid Rock.