Pastor's Note - March 23
Pew Research posted some recent data that is about as encouraging as it is surprising (i.e. not at all). According to a recent survey (I’ll post the link below), evangelical Christians are the most negatively viewed by non-evangelicals. Here’s a quote from the article; “Among respondents who are not born-again or evangelical Protestants, views of evangelical Christians are far more negative than positive. About a third in this group (32%) rate evangelicals negatively, compared with 18% who rate them positively, making evangelical Christians among the most negatively rated religious groups by people who are not members of the group.” Now, we can debate about why that is and how that came to be. I don’t think this reality in and of itself means the evangelical church has necessarily gone wrong. Jesus had a lot to say about His followers being hated as He was. But regardless of how we ended up here, we have to realize that we are in this position. The world will not look on us with unquestioned favor. Bible-believing Christians will be either looked at as weird, suspected as a threat, or assumed to be an enemy. (For a recent example, look into the recent controversy around NHL goaltender James Reimer.) There are many applications to take from this reality. One, I believe, is this: Relational discipleship and evangelism will be all the more important. People may be skeptical of the message of the gospel, simply because of negative preconceptions and assumptions. It may be harder for us to gain a hearing in the world. So, we may have to be more intentional about developing relationships of trust and care, in which we display the genuine love of Christ, if we are to carry out the gospel message. We need not be discouraged, though, because it has always been our call to make our reasonableness and love known. And, we know that it is the gospel itself that has the ultimate power to save, and we know that God always has people that He is drawing to Himself. So, our task is not at all hopeless. We may simply need to recognize that, just as unregenerate hearts are always hostile to the gospel until they are regenerated, we should expect non-Christians to be suspicious and hostile toward evangelicals, until they see the love and truth of Christ in-person. Here’s a second quick application: Parents, recognize that as you raise your kids to follow Christ, you are setting them up to be potentially despised. Don’t let that scare you, but you ought to be aware of that reality. And a third application: Don’t let the opinions of the world change your convictions. The “right side of history” is not always on the side of the majority, and Jesus tells us the path to salvation is narrow. Let us be people of the book, whose beliefs and convictions are guided by God’s Word as revealed in Scripture and in His Son, and not by the whims of popularity.