Last nigh, as it began to grow darker, we were on our way home from a birthday gathering. Not too far from our house, we noticed the lights of a carnival. It is an annual event, enjoyed by many people for miles around.
The wheel we saw wasn’t this big, but it was still clearly visible and beckoned to anyone interested that THIS is where the fun is!
Nothing wrong with that. The carnival raises money for our local fire department, for which we are always thankful when we hear the sirens and see the trucks speeding by to put a fire out. This is not intended in any way as a criticism of carnivals.
My thoughts went in a different direction, though. Sometime during my teens, a trend developed in Christianity to use the techniques of the world to draw people to Jesus. We began to hear teaching on the importance of appealing to the unchurched in their own terms, offering entertainment and excitement to get people to come to church. Once we got them there, we were told, THEN we can offer them the gospel.
This kind of thinking began to show up in music, which is not surprising. Music styles were copied by Christian songwriters, hoping to appeal to listeners with music that sounded like secular songs they knew and enjoyed.
“Social drinking” became acceptable to many. The logic was that you can’t reach others for Christ if you can’t share their activities with them. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
I’m kind of old-fashioned. I still believe that people ought to be drawn to Christ not because Christianity is the SAME as the world, but by virtue of its DIFFERENCE from the world.
It is not our job to stand in judgment of anyone else’s habits and behaviors unless they infringe on our own freedoms. You are free to listen to any music you like as long as you don’t blare it into my house in the wee hours of the morning. That’s just courtesy, not judgment.
Jesus did not tell us to copy the world in order to win people to Him. What He said, was: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32). He, of course, was speaking of His coming crucifixion. He would be nailed to a wooden cross and then lifted up for all to see as He died in excruciating pain. This was not an unusual event. What made it different with Jesus is that He was without fault, and His blood was shed as the perfect sacrifice to cleanse us from the penalty of our sin.
Many people, on that dreadful but glorious day, stood and watched. Some mocked and scorned. Others were touched deep in their hearts, realizing Who He was. One of the thieves who was crucified with Him openly acknowledged His deity and was promised eternity with Christ as a result.
My point, then is that we will win others to Christ not by being the same as they are; we will win them by lifting up Jesus and sharing Who He is. If we are living holy in Christ Jesus, others will be drawn to our kindness and sincere love for God and for others.
What turns people away from God is when we behave in a judgmental manner toward them. We don’t have to participate in behaviors that do not honor God, but we don’t have to sneer at them for doing what is normal for them.
We don’t need carnival lights and music to draw people to Christ. We do need to live in a way that draws people to Him, by lifting Him up in His rightful place as the only begotten Son of God Who came to save us from our sin.