Christians demand a lot from the world sometimes. We expect the world to agree with our moral views. We expect our governments to follow our definition of marriage. We expect our neighbors to have the same basic principles of interaction as we do. We expect all companies to only support organizations that stand with what we believe.
We are a religion that seems more known for what we are against rather than what we believe. We boycott stores, movies and TV shows. When asked our reasons for boycotting, we simply state that the organization is wrong and that we want people to see how wrong they are. I’m not sure that is what Jesus had in mind when He told us not to be like the world.
Now I will be the first to admit that there are some stores I do not shop at. I do not make a big deal over it. I do not wave around this decision for the world to see. I do not do that because it is never about what others see. It is completely about myself. When I abstain from purchasing something at a store it is not to try and make the store change their view. I abstain because it is my money and there are some things I do not want it going towards. I would rather spend my money supporting things that I agree with. Why can’t it just be as simple as that?
We take it a step to far though. We use boycotting to demand change. We do this in all avenues. We don’t like the language an unsaved person uses so we tell them we cannot be around them until they learn how to clean up their language. We say we still love a family member who has come out of the closet, but do not want to be around them until they are ready to fight their homosexuality. We say we are doing this to show how serious this is for us, but sometimes it is just us being on a really high horse. We are really good at confronting sin, but unable to use this calling in adequate context.
Why do we demand the unsaved to act like they are saved? Why do we expect a world in darkness to act like the darkness does not exist? We have become sinaphobes (My made up word for the day). We refuse to be around sin in any context so we cower back from the darkness. We take the light with us. We use the light we have to keep the darkness at bay around us, but we refuse to walk out into the darkness and pierce it. We may think we are fighting back the darkness with our demands of secular businesses, neighbors, and loved ones. We may think we are making a bold statement in abandoning our schools after they abandoned God. We have tried to punish a world for their sin by taking us out of it. By trying to punish a sinful world we have removed it’s only hope for a remedy.
We are sinaphobes. We demand those who live in darkness to act as though they live in the light. This is hopeless. A man who is a slave to sin cannot be anything else. Demanding more from him will not make him find Christ. We must be a shining example of a life freed from sin.
I’m not saying sin should not be confronted. Evil must be called evil. Wrong must be called wrong. However, we should not be surprised when an atheist acts like an atheist. We should not be surprised when someone who does not know Christ lets out a swear word, has sex before marriage, goes to see that crude movie, lies, steals, cheats, etc.
Obviously we should not join in the sin, but removing ourselves completely is not the answer either. Demanding people follow our standards will hurt our cause. How then do we change a world plagued with darkness? We reach out to the individual. Show people love and compassion. Show them you care. Confront sin and hold one another accountable in the body of Christ. Let the world know that there is a right and a wrong, but do not punish a world enslaved to it. There is already a punishment for sin. We are here to let the world know that someone else has already taken that punishment. How then can we do that when we refuse to be around those who sin?
Jesus is the one who changes hearts. Yes we make people aware of what is sin, but we are not the ones who can change their lives. All we can do is point them to the one who is able to do all of that and much more.
Don’t go to that department store if it stands for things you are against, but do not demand of them to be like you. How can they have a hope of doing so? We demand people live life as though they know the answer without ever giving them the answer. Boycotting does not pierce the darkness. Confronting sin with love, compassion, and reaching out to people where they are at may do so. This mission is not for the sinaphobic though.