Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Harken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you worthless: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say continually unto them that despise me, the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” Jeremiah 23:16-17
Are you a watcher? I mean do you pay attention to the times we live in? Are you aware of the shift in what is considered to be polite and impolite conversation culturally speaking? Have you noticed the huge shift in the methods of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I believe that many of the new approaches to evangelism are not well thought out and lack clear biblical support. The reason so many of these new emergent and hipster strategies are gaining a foothold in churches is that too many Christians have succumbed to new definitions of old words. Our society has determined that new definitions are needed in order to rationalize ungodly behavior. A case in point is the word tolerance.
In America, tolerance once meant that everyone had a right to express their viewpoint and everyone had a right to disagree with a viewpoint. Today tolerance means that everyone has a right to express a viewpoint as long as it is a socially acceptable viewpoint. In other words, if you hold a viewpoint that is contrary to what society at large believes, you are not free to express yourself. If you are brave enough to try, then you will be met with a very hostile “shout down” by the more enlightened people in our midst.
This has clear implications for telling other people about Jesus. It has become increasingly impolite and in fact, culturally incorrect, to speak about anyone “needing” Jesus. The Christian faith is being systematically muted by self-appointed “elites” and apparently many Christians are ok with this development.
Tolerance used to mean defending the right of everyone to state their opinion in the public square of debate. Today tolerance has been redefined to mean that only opinions that are consistent with those ideals espoused by cultural elitists are permitted. Attempts are made to silence all contradictory viewpoints, and some are silenced through the weapon of choice for these elitists – government activism.
Intolerance is now state-sanctioned and that is easily proven. Examples are plentiful. For years the federally funded National Endowment for the Arts has financially supported all expressions of art that serve no other purpose than to desecrate Christian symbols and sensitivities. Compared to other examples this now seems tame.
The US Government continues to purge our military of chaplains who insist on praying in Jesus name while increasing the number of Islamic imams and Wiccan leadership who denounce Jesus Christ; the suspension of teachers who attempt to teach creation or who dare speak of evolution as a theory, and the now notoriously famous reeducation of Christians who have refused to cow-tow to political correctness run amok and have stood on their convictions that certain behavior is sinful no matter how much government cover and celebratory nonsense it is shrouded in.
And of far more concern is the behavior of the Church. Pastor, author, and theologian John Stott succinctly describes the present delusion of the church: “Tolerance is not a spiritual gift; it is the distinguishing mark of postmodernism; and sadly, it has permeated the very fiber of Christianity. Why is it that those who have no biblical convictions or theology to govern and direct their actions are tolerated and the standard or truth of God’s Word rightly divided and applied is dismissed as extreme opinion or legalism?”
Some in the Church have thrown in the towel and raised the white flag of surrender deciding that instead of standing firm on conviction and doctrine, that it was far more expedient to agree with the latest cultural ideas.
Christians who continue to hold to the teaching of the Scriptures concerning homosexual behavior should not be surprised at the rapid turn of events being played out in America today. The tares have certainly been growing among the wheat so that now in many denominations the tares have completely taken over and crowded out the wheat.
We started this conversation by observing that tolerance has been redefined to exclude the original idea of freedom of expression to the now sacrosanct notion of celebrating every behavior as normal and right. This new freedom does not include the freedom to disagree, so it is really just freedom to walk in lock-step with the prevailing enlightened ideals of those opposed to historic, biblical Christianity.
What does this mean for Christian evangelism? It means that Christians need to sharpen their minds and focus on exactly what it is we are trying to convey to our neighbors and friends. Old techniques of evangelism don’t work for the simple reason that people don’t see anything “good” about the Gospel. For the most part, all they hear are dos and don’ts. This leaves us needing to rethink our approach. In other words, why is the gospel good news to those we want to speak to?
It is precisely at this point that the Gospel is most clearly seen as relevant to every culture, time, and place. You see, the problems mankind has wrestled with and sought answers to – namely where is hope to be found, can I find acceptance for who I am, who will love me truly and intimately, and even where can I find tolerance for my views – are all wrapped up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Hope is found in our new identity in Christ, an identity that He handpicks for each of us as His special creation. Acceptance is found in the unfathomable grace we experience as God accepts us in Christ and declares us holy and just in His eyes. Intimacy is found in the midst of an ongoing love that lifts us up in every circumstance.
Don’t be dismayed by the current condition of the American culture. See instead great opportunity to share why the Gospel is good news for everyone. It truly is a transforming truth.
Source: The New Tolerance by Pastor Mike Spaulding