On Rebuilding Christian Influence
When Christians are being laughed at and scorned on a national level, there is a problem. When Christians are known more what they stand against than what they stand for, there is a problem.
Unfortunately, many well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) Christians have publicly acted foolishly and caused our positive influence to falter. Events like the murder of Dr. Tiller implant themselves into the minds of people more than the good that Christians do in larger numbers. The few who stand more prominently and express hatred in the name of our God and those who are causing so much of the destructive perceptions about the church. Flaws are not the problem, it is that these public actions are immediately contrary to the message of the Bible.
For years we have been working to regain our influence in our world. To do that we have worked to attract large numbers of people into our sanctuaries. We have invested millions of dollars (perhaps billions?) into facilities, technology, lights, sound systems, publications, promotions, special events, and sweepstakes giveaways to get people to come. I love technology (after all look at this media), but outsiders see this effort and many begin to ask why churches seem to share a message of caring for others, yet they invest so much capital in themselves.
My proposition: let’s take a page from the book of A Bug’s Life. This story is simply about a colony of ants who are being oppressed by a few grasshoppers who individually are obviously many times larger and therefore wield a significant amount of influence, yet without the wisdom to back it up. Throughout the arch of the story [SPOILER ALERT: but hopefully you have already seen the 1998 film], the colony moves from being afraid of the grasshoppers (doing whatever they want) to realizing that as a united colony they have much more influence over the few grasshoppers and they successfully run them out.
How can Christians stand together? Another lobby group will only help to solidify the negative influence we have at the moment. Further activist events will also only broadcast a negative message across the nation’s media airwaves. But what would happen if each of us, individually, were able to break away from that negative stereotype that is grossly inaccurate and begin to have influence over a few people? Granted, that is only a few, but perhaps that few will make comments over the pleasant and non-judgmental conversation that they had with a Christian last week. Perhaps some will be influenced so strongly that they will become part of our faith community. Then they too can help to share that positive and life-changing message in a way that can continue to create distance from those negative perceptions. Individually we can then return to our ant hills and celebrate, encourage, and build up the people of God with the full knowledge that we are reclaiming our world for Christ.
This is my prayer. Make it so (Amen).