In this article, Dave Knickerbocker raises a question that some Christians struggle with. His conclusion may surprise you.
Lord, Save Us From Your Followers
by Dave Knickerbocker
Josh Williams, the youth pastor at Evangel Baptist in Boardman, OH, used the video Lord Save Us From Your Followers as the discussion topic for the young adult group over two weeks. He has been gracious in allowing me to sit in (since I’m slightly out of my 20′s). This video sparked great discussion, but there’s one thing we discovered about our approach to our relationship with the unchurched that stands out.
Dan Merchant, the Christian guy who made this great flick interviewed people from all angles of Christianity. He also presented insights from those who oppose Christianity. Near the end of the video he highlights the heathen (as she calls herself) radio host of KINK in Portland, Oregon. She went on a trip with World Vision to Africa and, as a result, managed to raise support from 800 of her unChristian listeners to sponsor children through that Christian organization. So, Christians and non-Christians can work together to provide for the poor. But, should we?
Our dilemma was combating the idea of secular humanism – the belief that people can have morals or be ethical without God. In a world where the significance of the Good News of Jesus Christ is diluted to the point of equality with other religions, even by some in the church, our group took seriously the charge to keep the Truth in the forefront of everything we do. There is danger in serving alongside people who aren’t serving for the same reasons we are. By providing aid to the poor in cahoots with atheists and agnostics, aren’t we giving credence to their points of view by association?
I was extremely pleased and impressed by the outcome. Proper evangelical doctrine states that everybody is depraved because of our sin – precisely the opposite of secular humanism. If we truly believe this, then we must take that thought to its natural conclusion. We have nothing within ourselves to garner good deeds that hasn’t been derived from God. This is true even after being saved. The good we do is not of ourselves, but the Holy Spirit has enabled us to do it.
So, what if God decides to put an inkling of good in the hearts of people who have so far rejected him, just like he did for you before you were saved? Isn’t the basis for prevenient grace the idea that we don’t even have the ability in our fallen state to reach out to God, so the Spirit graciously gives it to us to make salvation possible? Christian, if he put the potential to recognize Light in you, don’t you think he can do it for someone else, even if they don’t identify it as being from God? Here’s what the Apostle Paul has to say:
When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. (Romans 2:14-15, The Message)
As it was approaching 11 pm, and as I am not a youth, we decided to call it a night. Our chat ended with a great thought: In our honorable quest to keep the Truth about Jesus pure, let’s stop throwing the baby out with the bath water. What if, instead of pointing out the evil things that separate us from the unchurched, we acknowledge the good things we have in common without watering down the truth of the Gospel?
I have a hunch that God places goodness into the hearts of people who hate him as a way to attract them to himself. It’s up to us to make the connection obvious.
About the author:
Dave Knickerbocker has planted two churches with his wife, Vanda. They are waiting for God to reveal their next church planting opportunity in Northeast Ohio, while Dave is working on getting his first book published.
What Is Your Opinion?
Thanks, Dave, for getting us thinking about this important subject. My own opinion is that too often we Christians withdraw ourselves from those who are unbelievers. If we don’t mingle with them, especially in doing wonderful projects such as World Vision does, how will they ever see or hear the love and light of Jesus? Someone wise once said, “You may be the only Jesus someone meets.” Jesus, who lives in us, chooses to work through us in reaching people who don’t know Him.
Jesus is our example. The Pharisees had a problem with him mingling with those who had a reputation as sinners. But He came to seek and save those who are lost. He’s still seeking and saving. Let’s love people as He did. It just might be that one of those hardened atheists or agnostics will sense something within us that will draw them to the Savior.
If you have thoughts about this, share them in the comment section below.