Pastor’s eNote: Convince – or – Be convincing? That is the ?

Questions come to me weekly. Some are repeated more often than others. This one was asked recently and I was inspired to share the question and the answer with you here. ~ Pastor Theresa

Q: Because you asked: “How do I convince my family and friends that my Christian values, morals and ethics are better than their “anything goes, whatever” attitude?”

This is probably not the answer you were looking for, but you don’t have to convince anyone of anything. That was easy, right? Stay with me.

Your question implies that you have discussed your faith, but haven’t moved them to commit their life to Christ. That’s okay. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

I believe that everyone outside the faith tries to “be a good person” (unless they specifically try to be the opposite). I will assume that an “anything goes, whatever attitude” is one that does not recognize sin as something detrimental to everyone connected to it, or as having a negative impact on anyone but the one directly involved. Usually that works just fine for them, until circumstances make that sin choice their business, ie: consequences extend to or include them in some way.

The best way to learn a better way is to SEE a better way and seek to follow.

If you are living by Christian values, morals and ethics, your example speaks for itself, as one “who will never be shaken.” (Psalm 15) That’s the clearest sign for me that someone claiming Christianity is truly living it. Not that they do not get angry, sad, or passionate about an issue, but that they don’t let that anger, sadness or passion overtake their very clear confidence that comes from emotional and spiritual stability. In other words, they don’t lose it, or lash out in anger, in sadness or heated argument. You might debate, but you don’t debate with cruelty or shame. This is usually the point when someone points out that even Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables in the temple court. Let’s clear that up. Jesus didn’t throw a tantrum. Okay? A tantrum is when you lash out because you just can’t take it anymore, and you yell and throw things, and people think, “wow, Dave lost it, man. Guess we pushed him too far.” No. That’s not what happened in the temple court. Jesus wasn’t surprised, because he knew what was going on there. He came in a day prior, and chose to return (Mark’s account) and in John’s account takes the time to make a whip from cords. This was a thought out, carefully executed lesson to all who were there that selling animals in the Court of the Gentiles, defiling a sacred space with animal droppings and cheating people on price, and so on has no place here and won’t be tolerated as any part of the new church. They were taking a space meant for quiet contemplation and prayerful introspection and turning it into a noisy, smelly den of exploitation. Driving out the zoo that set up there and talking about destruction of “this temple” could be viewed as predicting its destruction, a la “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Never confuse one very critical symbolic act, meant to communicate something tangible, with a temper tantrum. The pithy, hurtful language we hear today from they who claim moral superiority isn’t communicating anything but that they think more highly of themselves than they ought. Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Now THAT speaks to me regarding that ability to retain confidence and stability in faith…when you “think with sober judgement” and act accordingly. Do you hold up your end of the conversation about Christian morals, values and ethics? Absolutely. But you don’t have to win the argument. Jesus already did.

I leave you with this…

Colossians 3:12-17 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

“Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.”

See you at church! πŸ•Š ~ Pastor Theresa