My last soapbox rant for 2010

Boy, oh boy. I may be in trouble with this blog.

My goal is to keep it light, to make people smile, and to make people think—to encourage. But I’ve had this nagging idea to pervade my thoughts for several weeks, and it just won’t go away.

So here I stand on my soap box.

Most of us have heard pastors preach that we are to be in the world but not of it. That’s right. We have the go ahead to live our lives and mingle within society…but the red light of conviction stops us from compromising our values—from adopting the attitudes of the world around us.

I have no problem with this belief, but I do have a fear—perhaps burden is a better word.

I’m troubled that the majority of Christians have become so weakened that we can’t function in the world anymore. Instead of marching boldly into war, we retreat into our churches, our Christian schools, our home schools, our homes.

It’s really easy to stand up for Christ when everyone you know is standing with you. But if we all build fences around us to protect us from the world, who’s left to reach out to the world? Doesn’t it feel awkward when we finally step outside that fence and try to build a relationship with a person we’ve shut out?

It’s only natural we should do what we can to protect our children. I often wish I taught in a Christian school. But…what would happen if we all retreated to our safe Christian environments?

Imagine a world in which only the Christian engineers associated and worked together. Or Christian plumbers only serviced Christian homes. And Christian mechanics worked only on cars of believers.

Sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? But we’re tempted to condemn those in the media when they mingle with others in their professions. I’m talking about musicians, film makers, actors, broadcasters, journalists, writers, novelists, etc.

Can’t we appreciate the skills or crafts of other engineers or mechanics even though they aren’t believers? Who’s left to share Jesus if we disappear?

Just as the little song says, if we retreat, we hide our light under a bushel. Darkness prevails.

My heart’s desire is to write Christian fiction for young adults. But I would be blessed even more richly should nonbelievers find Jesus through what I write.

The Christian voice has been silenced—not so much by others but by ourselves! We’re leaving the general market, and the general market isn’t necessarily forcing us out. When the majority of Christians retreat, the remaining Christian voices are drowned out by cacophony of competing beliefs. The Christian majority no longer exists.

Back in the 1990s, I spent a lot of time writing about contemporary Christian music. Not only did these artists receive condemnation from segments of the church, but I did too—just for believing in and writing about their work.

Yet, in my heart, I felt a strong conviction that these Christians were spreading the gospel of Christ in a non-confrontational way that helped others understand. I still do. These artists took the gospel to clubs and bars and pubs, places where empty hearts are often searching for something, someone to fill them. Why not Jesus? Listen to the question again.

Why not Jesus?

These artists spoke the language of the natives yet maintained their Christian convictions, not unlike what missionaries do in foreign countries. Jars of Clay, for example, toured with Sting and shared the stage with mainstream artists Matchbox Twenty, Seal, and Lenny Kravitz. They didn’t sing to the choir. They sang to the world, in it but not of it.

I fear a similar situation is happening in the publishing world today. We have a need for Christian publishing. But we have a greater need for writers to use their stories as Jesus did His parables as a way to share the Truth with people who would never look at Christian lit.

When we’re tempted to retreat to our safe havens, when we’re tempted to condemn those who, like missionaries. take the message to world–but through modern media, we should remember that Jesus left His haven, heaven, to come to the world—to be in the world so that we might hear and believe.

Jesus has His own plan for taking us out of the world. It’s called the rapture.

Right now I think we have a job to do. In my humble opinion, we need to get into the world and be the light. But we had better toughen up so that we don’t conform. Plus, it’s easy to share Jesus with people who already know Him.

It’s a whole lot tougher to do it in front of a world that may mock, persecute, or even kill us for our beliefs.