Some of the headlines are ominous. The value of religious liberty is on the decline. Many Americans consider normal Christian beliefs to be “extreme”—Christianity’s foundational truths (such as, Jesus is the only way to God) or Christianity’s moral vision (Jesus’s strict sexual ethic). In some quarters, our faith is no longer merely strange; it’s bad—detrimental a free and pluralistic society. The evil one would love nothing more than to have these recent developments shut up Christians or to stir up in us a fear of rejection.
The Temptation to Stay Quiet
The Christian that knows only to bemoan the state of society is the Christian that will succumb to silence. Love for God and love for others must conquer our fear.
We must not assume that our unchurched friends and neighbors are hostile to our faith. When we believe the myth that everyone hates us, we tend to retreat to our closets where we hide our lamp under a bowl. We equate faithfulness with maintenance rather than mission.
Open to Conversations
The idea that the unchurched are hostile is simply untrue. A new survey from LifeWay Research and Wheaton's Billy Graham Center for Evangelism shows that people are more likely to be indifferent to organized religion, not hostile.
We need to do away with that old saying that Americans don’t discuss politics and religion in polite company. The research shows that most of your friends and family who don’t attend church are either (1) willing to listen to you talk about your faith or (2) will engage you in conversation.
- Almost half (47 percent) say they discuss religion freely if the topic comes up.
- A third (31 percent) say they listen without responding, while 11 percent change the subject.
- Only about a third (35 percent) say someone has ever explained the benefits of being a Christian to them.