The Key To Irresistible Christianity
By Fin Sheridan
It’s October 2017 and to say the world feels divided feels like an understatement. A potent cocktail of fear, divisive global events and the megaphone of social media have given rise to extremes. Political and social changes have stirred up our emotions like never before. The 24 hour news cycle with its constant updates and commentary have given us more information than we can handle. And then Twitter and Facebook gave us a platform for vocalising our confusion and conclusions. Outrage and offence have never been so easy to express.
Somewhere in this mess, the Christian community has to learn what salt and light looks like. What does it mean for us to be a different people, a noticeable difference? The mission is unchanged and the opportunity is there. We can offer hope. We can speak faith. We can present a foundation; wise men (and women) who have built their house on the rock, inviting others to do the same. The Facebook feed is ‘white unto harvest.’
There’s just one problem.
“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, freedom. In all things, love.”
We have (unsurprisingly and not incorrectly) our own opinions, views and decisions. Agreeing what the Bible says is hard enough for us, let alone what to believe about Brexit. Some Christians think Trump is God’s gift to the world, others think he is God’s wrath upon it. Ask any 5 Christians their opinion on ‘X’ and they’ll almost certainly give 5 different points of view, often with different verses to back up their thoughts.
This isn’t a call for uniformity. It’s okay to have a different point of view on things that the Bible doesn’t speak to (although there’s a lot that it does speak about that we choose to ignore…). There’s a helpful expression that is often attributed to Augustine: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, freedom. In all things, love.” There are things that we can and should agree on. We also have the freedom to disagree. What cannot be lost is that we must do all this in love.
An unbelieving world doesn’t need to see us all agree – that doesn’t ring true. Robotic recital doesn’t speak to the heart. What would be captivating, what people would look at with wonder and intrigue, would be a church that is filled with people that don’t need to win all the time. Individuals filled with such love for one another that they respected and honoured each other with their words – even (and especially) when they argued. A community filled with unique personalities, the rich and poor, the left and right, the young and the old, who were all able to live together, carrying one another’s burdens and rejoicing in something bigger than themselves. Now that would truly be irresistible.