The title “Evangelical Christian” seems to have become a pejorative to many in the media and culture. I understand the frustration (I have written about it a lot) when very vocal or celebrity Christian leaders fail spectacularly. I share your anger when a religious person espouses hateful or judgmental comments. I grieve when an institution or leader fails to protect the innocent.
Critics say that Christians have an agenda and dangerous desire to control other people’s lives. I confess that has been true for some religious types. But the followers of Jesus that I have gotten to know over many decades don’t resemble that stereotype at all. Perhaps that is why Jesus warned so plainly about the dangers of power. The selfless, giving, and caring believers get little notice in this world but I believe they are quietly and faithfully making a difference.
I thought about what my answer would be if I was asked to outline my agenda. I certainly don’t speak for all Evangelical Christians but I think I just might represent a number of them as I share my “agenda”.
Let me start by telling you what this particular Evangelical Christian does not believe…
I do not believe you have to be Republican to be a Christian. During the rapture Jesus will not appear first on Fox News. Like it or not, heaven will be bipartisan and I am totally fine that there will not be “sides” of the Golden Aisle.
I do not believe that God is “judging” America for any particular sin. But if He is judging this country I would suspect it is for the massive squandering of wealth and resources that we have been blessed with while giving back an average of less than 2 percent.
I do not believe in ranking sins for their offensiveness to a Holy God. Some things are individually more offensive to some of us but all sin is equally intolerable to a Holy God. We are either perfect or in need of a Savior. I am the latter.
I do not believe that censorship, boycotts, or politics will redeem this culture…only a spiritual renewal of caring love and grace can accomplish such redemption.
I do not believe that it is my place to relish or desire eternal punishment for others. I am willing to leave that to a righteous and just God who sees the real heart and motives for each one of us and Who will judge justly.
Here is my agenda.
- To try and see everyone through the eyes of Jesus because my eyes are prejudiced and prideful.
- To try and love them like Jesus because my love is selfish.
- To try and see that no one misses out on the message of grace, identity, acceptance and one-way love that is offered as a free gift of grace by the finished work of Jesus on the Cross.
- To let them others know that my relationship with Jesus and His grace has changed my life, given my life purpose, given me strength to endure tragedy, and real hope for the future.
- To authentically relate how this personal relationship with the living God saved my marriage and made me a better father to my sons.
- To be gentle in relating the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to people in every situation. My goal is to introduce people to Jesus. If they are living in a way that is not biblical I will let them work it out in God’s timing while walking with them in grace and love.
- To exhibit grace and forgiveness to those who attack me for not sharing their world views.
- To freely dispense the grace of the living Christ to everyone I come in contact so that I can be salt and light to my little circle of influence.
- To be a advocate for those wounded by the church and other Christians. Our lack of unity must grieve the Lord who prayed for unity of the body during His final agonizing hours before His betrayal, mock trial, and crucifixion.
- To try to never be surprised or repulsed by the actions of those who do not have a relationship with Jesus. The Lord Himself was always gentle with sinners and always tough on religious hypocrites. We have reversed his example far too often. We are too tough on sinners and too gentle with the hypocrites in our midst.
- To try and give generously of my time and treasure to those who have not been as materially blessed in my neighborhood, my country, and around the world.
- To let people know that I love Jesus and I am not at all ashamed of that fact.
It is easy to dismiss the hypocrite. No problem to ignore the angry and judgmental religious types. But before I came to faith I was troubled when I saw some Christians who displayed something different in their lives. I could not dismiss so readily the joy, peace, strength, courage, and love they modeled. They were “troublesome” Christians to me. I could not ignore them because their lives were authentic and different (different good, not weird). I want to be that kind of Christian. I take these words of Jesus seriously.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
That was not a helpful suggestion. Jesus made that command the cornerstone of following Him. So that is my agenda. To love others as I have been loved and be a “troublesome” Christian to some.