Sunday, January 06, 2013

How Can I Help?

It took me a little longer than a week to put this together but here it is. In light of what I have proposed concerning what I believe to be a culture problem, the question comes “How can we help?” “What can we do to help correct our culture and help prevent these types of tragedies?” Here are ten things that can start reversing the heart condition of our culture.
1.     As a Christian, the first thing we can do is pray. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Ti 2:1–2). Pray that our government will make decisions that allow us as Christians to live in harmony with our culture as we live out the life of Christ in public.
2.     Live out our faith. By that I mean don’t just take the name of Christian but become a true follower of Christ. The followers of Christ “were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26) by those who were not followers of Christ because their lives so identified with Christ that it was noticeable to those outside of Christ. In the New Testament age being called a partisan of Christ, Christian, was not a complement but a condemnation. They were supposed to be a partisan of Rome. Christians have lost their influence in our culture because we have tried to be accepted by the “world.” We have tried to make being a Christian non-offensive to a godless, lawless, licentious, unrighteous world. We have done just the opposite of what we are instructed to do: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking” (The Message Romans 12:2). Following Christ sometimes will put us at odds with our culture. So much so that at times we may even suffer because we follow Christ. Yet, “if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16).
3.     At least an aspect of being a partisan of Christ is being someone who spreads the message of the Gospel. Will the true Gospel message be offensive? YES! Why? Because “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It is the message that got the early partisans of Christ arrested and killed. Still, it is the message that will confront the evils of our culture. It is the only message that will produce a personal embodiment of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Ga 5:22–23). These are the virtues that will transform our culture.
4.     Just as partisans of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents speak out about their platform let us who are partisans of Christ speak out. We have willingly allowed the evils of this culture drown our voices out. We need to speak out with grace in our conversations but we need to speak. The exhortation to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” is not intended to be just a mental exercise but “so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Ro 12:2). Speak out encouraging that which is good and righteous. Speak out against that which is evil and wrong. Yet, whether we are speaking out for the positive or against the negative let us heed the instruction “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6). May our speech never be with “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech” (Colossians 3:8). Let our speech be civil even in the face of hostilities.
5.     Let there be unity among Christians. A wise preacher once said “that which units us will also divide us” as he spoke concerning ideas and beliefs of different sects. As partisans of Christ may we let the belief and faith in Jesus Christ be what unites us and what divides us. Jesus unites us together and divides from those who outside of Christ. We may have some different beliefs in some doctrines. We may have some different interpretations of particular Biblical passages. But let’s not allow those things divide followers of Jesus Christ. Among those who are partisans of Christ let us never divide ourselves over politics, denominations, or public opinion. In unity we can stand together and gain greater influence on our culture.
6.     “Love your neighbors as yourself” (Matt 22:39) Begin initiating deeper relationships with those in your neighborhood. Maybe it is through a Neighborhood Watch or through Block Parties, but however it is start paying attention to your neighbors.
7.     Pay attention to those around you. Not just in a suspicious way but in a compassionate way. Look out for those who are doing good and beneficial things for the community and encourage them. Watch out for those who are being bad and destructive and, if possible and SAFE, confront them with grace and kindness. If you see something suspicious or illegal, tip off the police even if in anonymity.
8.     If you are available and qualified get involved in public service. Whether it is in city government, school board, civic organizations, etc. carry your good-sense and good-morals into the public arena. Be an agent of change to better your community.
9.     Voice your concerns and ideas to those who can do something about them. Don’t be afraid to call, email, snail mail, text, etc. those who are supposed to be representing you. From your city council person to the President of the United States of America, they need to hear from you in order to represent you.
10.  Live out what has been called the Golden Rule: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Mt 7:12). Be the neighbor you would want as a neighbor. Be the costumer you would want to serve. Be the employee or employer you would want to employee or work for. “In everything” and in every way treat others with respect, honesty, and grace.

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