Recent news about the live-streamed gang rape of a 15-year-old Chicago girl last month broke my heart.
It also made me mad. Furious, in fact.
The sexual assault of a young woman is horrible enough; that it was live-streamed, witnessed by at least 40 people on FaceBook, and yet reported by no one is unconscionable.
Tragically, news like this is far too common. Rape and other violence should shake us to our core, but I fear we are becoming desensitized due to frequent exposure to bad news.
I also fear I am becoming the old preacher who stands and screams at the darkness, “Why are you so dark?”
Frankly, I’m tired of pastors and other Christians who rant and rave about the evil in our culture. We Christians often are known for what the world considers hypocritical posturing.
- We don’t like a gay character in a Disney movie, so we call the masses to boycott.
- We’re offended by the not-so-secret Victoria’s advertisements, so we blast the retailer on Facebook.
- We get irritated that Starbucks removed “Christmas” from their holiday cups, and we declare to everyone, “I won’t support an ungodly company!”
For the record, our extreme and reactive efforts rarely (if ever) work. Beauty and the Beast set records. Victoria’s Secret is still making a ton of money. And Starbucks seems quite unaffected by our coffee-cup tirade.
Furthermore, our social media fits and shopping boycotts are appallingly inconsistent and potentially hypocritical.
Are you still using the internet? What about all the porn out there on the Worldwide Web?
Are you still watching TV? What about all the immorality and violence on the tube?
Are you still buying products made in China? What about their human rights violations and the persecution of the Church?
Let’s get real. It’s impossible to cut out everything related to evil in our world. To do so would require that we move to a mountain somewhere and live entirely off the grid.
Please read this next part carefully.
You have the right to support or not support any company you choose. I’m not saying we should just roll over and ignore what’s happening.
I am, however, suggesting that yelling at the dark for being so evil is not a good strategy for changing our culture.
People don’t change when we scream at them about their sin.
Nations don’t automatically or dramatically change just because the “right party” is in office.
Cultures don’t change when we attempt to legislate righteousness. Historically, religiously-driven legislation doesn’t work. Laws matter. Of course. But people’s hearts don’t change because of the law. (If you doubt me, you might want to read what the Apostle Paul said about this in the book of Romans.)
Change comes from the inside out.
Revival comes when people realize how their wide path leads to destruction and death, but they see hope in the Gospel.
Christians revolutionize a culture when they are “salt and light,” however, not in a bitter or blinding way, but in a way that draws people to the beauty of God’s mercy and grace.
People are empowered to stop watching porn, to stop having abortions, and to stop abusing drugs after they have been transformed by the Holy Spirit. That’s God’s plan.
Jesus never, and I repeat, never railed against Rome. He never boycotted. He never cast stones at sinners for being sinners. Yes, He spoke “grace and truth,” but His words and His life also demonstrated what Paul wrote years later, “It is the goodness of God that draws us to repentance” Romans 2:4 (NIV).
Darkness doesn’t become light when we yell at it for being so dark. Light, however, attracts people out of the darkness because as they “see our good works” they are drawn to the Father.
By the way, light shines when we love one another. Light is revealed when we live sacrificially and selflessly for the broken, the poor, and the sinner. Light is uncovered when we love the unlovely in Jesus’ name.
It’s time to stop screaming so much about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Instead, we must be the bride of Christ. We must be a breathtaking beauty who draws people in as we effectively practice the many “one another” passages in the Word.
Jesus said the secret sauce to advancing His Kingdom is “loving one another.”
Likewise, the Church will be irresistible if and when we live like our Lord, who “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” Matthew 5:45 (NIV).
God is good—even to people who are not.
Perhaps, it’s better to build a relationship with a barista at Starbucks than to hide behind Christian facades tossing stones (often self-righteously) at pagans?
I’m still upset by the tragedy in Chicago, but the answer isn’t to rant about the evil in our world.
The remedy is personal.
It starts with you and I being more like Jesus, who did not come to condemn the world but to save it.
A radical Christian revolution happened to the evil first century Greek and Roman empires because Christians lived and died like Christ.
Boycotting is easy. Loving is hard.