Thursday, March 30, 2006

Assimilation vs. Isolation vs. . . .

I wish that all the Christian T-shirts, billboards, rubber armbands, and bumper stickers could be tossed in one big heap.

But it's my witness!

Maybe so, but I don't believe that that our outerwear does much for the seeker. In fact, the worn T-shirt that we toss on because it's comfy and our favorite color might just be the wrong message when it doesn't match the lifestyle of the wearer.

But how do you let others know that you are a person of faith?

This was our conversation last week at the Boom-R-Ang Diner in Muskogee, Oklahoma. I'm the discipleship leader of a college ministry and once a week we hang out at the diner to talk about faith. It's really a very cool environment. 70's music in the background. The smell of pancakes and syrup and hamburgers. A waitress who knows us by name and likes to hang out and listen to the conversation.

Our topic was assimilation vs. isolation vs. how to live your faith in a way that makes sense in the world.

It's a tricky balance in this culture. People seem to view Christianity with less clarity. They don't get the message of hope, or understand why we believe the way we do.

Take what happened in SanFrancisco this past weekend. I wrote about it in my Real Teen Faith blog. 25,000 teens showed up to listen to musical artists and worship together and hundreds of protesters showed up, holding up signs and calling them names, really awful names. The assemblyman of that district called Ron Luce and his conference, BattleCry, a hate group. This confrontation hit all the airwaves and media outlets in 24 hours.

It was something that Ron Luce didn't see coming. No amount of armbands and T-shirts could overcome that perception.

So, what is a follower of Christ to do?

Back to my discussion at the Boom-R-Ang Diner.

Maybe we should just blend in, you know? Not make a fuss. Stop talking about issues.

I was taught to stay apart, you know isolate ourselves, from people who don't believe the way I do.

But how can you tell people about God if you do that? That doesn't make sense.

We danced around this issue for a while, and then looked to our ultimate partner for the answers. What did the Bible have to say?

As we studied the life of ordinary men and women who called themselves followers of Christ, we saw that they didn't blend in. In fact, when they shared their truth, they often faced persecution. Sometimes they were misunderstood. But often, their lives and dedication to their faith and reliance on something greater than a set of rules, won over those who had questions.

We can't isolate because our greatest example didn't. He made friends. He went where the need was, and then showed them the Father. These people walked out of their old lifestyle and followed in the footsteps of the Rabbi because they saw something worth following.

We can't blend in because truth doesn't often hide in the murky waters. It tends to stand out. Besides there are a lot of people who are asking questions.

But we can speak that truth with grace, something that Ron Luce and others of his organization did when the protesters showed up. They didn't change their program. They worshiped God. They encouraged 25,000 teens. They spoke the truth, but with grace. And with an extraordinary love that didn't make sense in light of the circumstances.

I guess that's the answer.

We can't assimilate and we don't dare isolate, but can live in our everyday world and exhibit a message that goes a 1,000 miles deeper than a WWJD bracelet.

What do you think?


Dewaine said...

Good message. This also goes to non-teenagers. A person of any age should take this advice.

B said...

WWJD - Popular Slogan, but what is it good 4? So FROG (Forever Rely On God) is a cool reminder for us, but Christianity is becoming a total convenience. It's convenient and cool to wear WWJD bracelets and 'A Breadcrumb and Fish' T-shirt, but Christianity NEEDS to be less of WWJD slogans, T-shirts, and convienience and more God-breathed, true-to-Scripture, light-shining lives!

- Let your light so shine among men that they will see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.