Monday, September 01, 2008

Counter-Intuitive Wisdom About Convictions

In their book Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg offer some counter-intuitive advice about the attractiveness of Christians with convictions:

"I'm not ashamed to admit that it strikes a cord deep inside of me almost every time I see someone stand up and take a risk or pay a price for something they believe in. Even if I don't agree with the cause they represent, I find myself moved and impressed by the depth of their commitment and their willingness to get off the spectator stands and onto the playing field.

"I've learned through the years that seekers are not impressed with spinelessness. I need to emphasize this because so many Christians are so afraid that if they state what they really believe, if they come out of the closet, or if they live by biblical priorities, then they'll automatically alienate those outside the faith. But that's almost never the case.

"Most of the time, seekers, whether they admit it openly or not, respect and admire Christians who aren't afraid to take a stand. Don't forget, many of them are trying to make up their own minds about what to do with the claims of Christ. So when a believer speaks up for what is right, defends Christianity intelligently, or lives his faith openly and authentically, seekers are forced to deal with the implications for their own lives.

"They ask themselves, 'What do I believe? What would I be willing to take a stand for? Do I have the courage to do what is right like my Christian friend does?' Over time, questions like these often lead to answers found in Christ...

"Let me say it once more: Seekers have little respect for weak Christians. Deep down they're looking for somebody--anybody--to step up and proclaim the truth and then to live it boldly. And I've just got to ask, why can't that be us? Why can't we live authentically and boldly on our job sites, in our neighborhoods, at our schools, and in our world? What are we so afraid of? What's holding us back? We have the Holy Spirit, we have the Word of God, and we have the church.

"We want to be contagious Christians, don't we? Then let's be real with people. Let's manifest an authentic identity and not be more or less than God made us to be. Let's be emotionally authentic and grapple with whatever life throws at us. Let's humbly admit errors when we make them.

"And let's boldly stand up for what we believe. Let's declare it and live it out, without apology, in order to provoke the kind of decision the centurion made (when, at the death of Jesus, he saw a man who lived out his convictions, the centurion cried out, "Surely this man was the Son of God!").

"That's the power, attractiveness, and potential of an authentic Christian life" (pp. 63-65).


Christy said...

I couldn't agree more. I think that most Christians struggle with too little or too much. What I mean is, either we are doing nothing to stand out as Christians, or we are being to 'in-your-face' type of Christians. It takes an extremely close walk with Christ to walk the talk JUST RIGHT. I am daily working on that just right part. It's not easy, but Jesus never said it would be. Do you understand what I'm trying to say? Good post.

Terry said...

I believe we are seeing eye-to-eye on this. I want to live as God intends...neither arrogant nor araid. It is a huge challenge. I am tempted in both directions to mess it up.

Mike said...

Here I firmly agree. Although I don't agree with BH on many things in this one he is correct.

One of the things that has hurt the gospel going forth is Christians who will not stand for what they profess.

Terry said...

Yes, I agree Mike. "Becoming a Contagious Christian" is the only book by Bill Hybels that I own, but I like it (especially the portion I quoted). I am not very familiar with his other works, so I can't provide good analysis of his other writings.