Getting over Bad Impressions

  We live in a time when Christians receive a lot of attention in the media -- unfortunately, not always favorable. In fact, favorable portrayals of Christians today in film and television are almost nonexistent. And that can keep people from considering the Gospel. Bad impressions don't matter for our sakes, but we should care how they reflect on Christ and the Gospel. Fearless Faith is John Fischer's new book about the place of Christians in culture. In it he reexamines a believer's role in the world and concludes that some sort of public relations campaign will never change bad impressions. They can only be changed through personal relationships. And that's a problem because so few Christians cultivate ongoing relationships with non-Christian friends. Sometimes such relationships are discouraged by warnings against the bad influence unbelievers can have on Christians. But whatever the reason, most Christians in this country are as separate as possible from unchurched people. Statistics show that two years after conversion, most Christians have lost all normal contact with friends outside the church. Many Christians today can't name one non-Christian with whom they do anything on a regular basis -- someone they would call a friend. Some would say this separation is required in order to live a holy life. Yet no one lived a holier life than Jesus, Who was called a friend of sinners because of the company He kept. It's easy to be around those who believe what we believe, but it's a different thing being around those who challenge our faith and whose lifestyle and language may offend us. But as Howard Hendricks said years ago, "I can't think of a better place for a non-Christian to sit down and light up a cigarette than in the home of a Christian where he can hear about and experience the love of God." That doesn't mean that we encourage them to continue their practices -- I've been with people who have taken the Lord's name in vain, and I explained to them why it offends me. Fischer goes on to tell us about a pastor who served as a short-term missionary in France. Part of his job was to knock on 4,000 doors and to leave a card that the person could fill out and mail in for a free Bible and study guide. Out of 4,000 homes, there was not one response. Reflecting on his experience, the pastor said that if he had the opportunity to do it all over again: "I would move into that neighborhood and love my neighbors." Of course, it sounds so simple when we say it, but it's so fundamental and basic we sometimes overlook it. The fact of the matter, you see, is we're already in the neighborhoods. We don't need to go to France. We don't need to go anywhere. All we need to do is open our front doors and our eyes and notice the people who live around us. God's plan for reaching the world is quite simple when you come right down to it. It's you and me making friends with people who don't know Him yet. BreakPoint commentaries are, in part, designed to help you and encourage you to reach out to others and discuss the events of the world with them from the point of view of a Christian worldview. The problem is But we'll never engage the culture if we have no non-Christian friends. John Fischer's book, Fearless Faith, is a challenge for us all to break out of our usual patterns and engage the culture by engaging people, one at a time. That's the way the world is changed. For further reading: John Fischer, Fearless Faith: Living Beyond the Walls of "Safe" Christianity (Harvest House, 2002). Read John Fischer's regular column "What in the World Are We Doing?" The Barna Group has some revealing statistics about Christian's evangelistic practices.


Chuck Colson


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