Recently I’ve been bombarded with questions from people who are deeply concerned about raising their children in a nation increasingly hostile to Christianity and its values. It’s reassuring to remember that Jesus anticipated this. “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace” he said. “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
Jesus lived surrounded by Cancel Culture. His detractors didn’t just want him to lose his job; they wanted him to lose his life! Although “the common people heard him gladly” (Mk 12:37), the power elite saw him as a threat to their hold on society. Using a cadre of lawyers, they sought to entrap him in his words. Sound familiar?
The question is, What do we do when we feel like the moral foundations of the nation are being destroyed? What was his secret? And what did he mean when he told us, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mt 10:16)?
Since its inception, America has allowed for vigorous debate on what some call religion, others the metaphysical, still others the spiritual. Jefferson had his own heavily edited version of the Bible. Tom Paine publicly ranted against all things Christian. Nevertheless, the Bible was generally taken seriously, a legitimate moral basis for both personal and public life.
Today things are very different. Christianity is often painted as intrusive, hypocritical, judgmental, and antiquated–to put it nicely. In such an environment, it is vital that those who are committed to following Christ take what he said, and how he said it, very seriously.
The Lord Jesus was the master communicator. He used object lessons, current events, gentle humor, question and answer sessions, and especially parables–earthly stories with a heavenly meaning–to captivate his audience, even those who had their dukes up, so to speak.
Let me give you an example of using winsome words, even when talking about difficult subjects. Tony, a dear friend, recently went to heaven, aged 93. He had a great way of bridging the gap from everyday talk to spiritual realities. “Do you know that I know for sure I’ll go to heaven when I die?” he would ask. “Want to know how I know?” To the curious, he would respond, “Well, based on my good looks, of course!” It never failed to bring a smile.
Then he would continue: “You see, I had a good look at myself, and discovered I was a lost sinner without a hope of making myself acceptable to God. But then I had a good look at the Lord Jesus, and discovered he was just the Savior I needed, the only Savior offered anywhere! When I put my trust in him, he guaranteed me safe passage to heaven.”
Then he might quote Jesus’ own words in John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
You can’t be antagonistic and evangelistic at the same time. Christian, why not use a little sweetness to help the medicine go down.