When it comes to renewing the culture, it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
Gabe Lyons is one of today’s truly promising young evangelical leaders. He’s a graduate of our first Centurions class, and filmed with me a six-part DVD series on my book The Faith. I appreciate Gabe’s fidelity to Scripture and his focus on the fundamental truths of Christianity. But what’s really exciting is how he’s applying the Truth in new ways, ways that really speak to young people.
Ten years ago, Gabe and Rebekah Lyons received a scary diagnosis: Their newborn son, Cade, had Down syndrome. But as Gabe writes in his new book, The Next Christians, “Cade has taught us so much about life and love. His smile and delight bring a warmth to our world we never knew could exist.” Well the Colson family has experienced the same thing with my autistic grandson, Max.
The Lyons were shocked to find out that 90 percent of all mothers faced with a Down syndrome diagnosis end up aborting, often under pressure from doctors and the insurance companies.
The Lyons wanted to find a better way, so they and some friends produced a booklet titled Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis. It included photos that “captured the extraordinary and quite normal lives individuals with Down syndrome lead.” It also addresses the concerns of parents reeling from a Down diagnosis and points them to parents of Down syndrome children who can offer advice and support.
The booklet was delivered to the office of every Ob-gyn in town, and the doctors agreed to use the booklets in an effort to be more sensitive to parents facing a frightening diagnosis.
In creating it, the Lyonses were consciously creating a solution instead of finding someone to blame. A small way, but one that helps restore the broken creation.
As Gabe told the Christian Post, “It was just using my gifts in storytelling and photography... But this is what Christians have to do everywhere. They show up to counter the corruption overflowing in our world and not just talking about how bad it is, but saying, let’s be a part of displaying for people what the Kingdom of God might look like when it shows up.”
Lyons points to other Christians who are not merely condemning cultural rot, but creating signs of the kingdom. For instance, a believer named Jamie Tworkowski founded a nonprofit called To Write Love On Her Arms. It provides hope and help to people who deal with depression and self-injury. The nonprofit is being funded by the sale of a T-shirt identifying this problem, especially among young girls.
This new generation of Christians is taking seriously the biblical command to help restore God’s broken creation. Rather than demonstrating, boycotting, or voting for the “right” candidate, they are “restoring the truth, goodness, and beauty that’s been lost” in the culture. They’re creating art, films, music, media —“anything,” Lyons writes, “that incarnates Christ and communicates . . . restoration.”
Lyons agrees with cultural commentator Andy Crouch that the only way to change culture is to create more of it. How right they are.
How are you addressing the brokenness of our culture? Are you merely criticizing it from the safety of your home or office — or getting creative about restoring our world to what God intended?I hope you’ll read The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. You’ll discover new ways to interact with the culture — and ways to use your own God-given talents to bind up the wounds of a world in chaos.
The Faith DVD
Charles W. Colson | Zondervan, 2008