Hey Christian! I want you to consider a different kind of approach to the very loud protesting against the upcoming movie, 50 Shades of Gray this Valentine’s Day weekend.
I see it everywhere I turn in Christian circles lately-women and men posting scathing protests against any believer or even the secular public who might support a film that contains graphic sex and blurred lines between love and abuse.
But I won’t.
And I don’t say that with pride and a puffed up chest either. I say it with sadness, honestly.
- If my main objective as a Christ-follower is to be a light and to be known for how I love others, then publicly protesting a film on a moral level will only pit me against my target audience for sharing the message of Jesus Christ and His love.
How open is an unbeliever going to be if I spend my time coming across as judgmental and close-minded, even if I am being neither of those things? Because that will be the perception.
And perceptions matter.
I firmly believe that living a quiet, yet stalwart life for Christ is the testimony we need to portray to the world:
…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders… I Thessalonians 4:11-12b
Offending others intentionally is foolish, friends. Gain their respect so that when the time comes that they hunger for something beyond the emptiness of the bedroom or the pursuit of the boardroom, or the burdens of life, you are the first person they want to approach, instead of avoid.
But if those around us only see believers standing with a fist and building brick walls with our words, then they will never consider us respectable people that they would want to have a conversation with about our differing views.
Conisder Chik-fil-A's Dan Cathy's friendship with gay activist Shane L. Windmeyer. I lOVE these guys!
How can we publicly condemn others for having a sinful belief system and then think that they will come to our homes for dinner or accept Living Water from our hands when we run off at the mouth?
- As a passionate Christ-follower, I want to be known by what I stand FOR not what I stand AGAINST.
You won’t find a more passionate advocate for all things good and praise-worthy when it comes to what I choose to dwell on and promote. You can bet that I will stand for life, for integrity, for Biblical love and if you knew me personally, you would know that I am no pushover when it comes to Truth.
But conversations about deep heart issues are best held between people who have mutual respect for one another-something that is void in a public protest. I’m happy to talk through my beliefs with anyone who comes to me and asks. And in that conversation I hope I will do as much listening as talking.
There is enough negativity in social media already. As a believer, the last thing I want to do is add to it. My prayer is that I will be known as someone who believes the best about others, gives them the benefit of the doubt, seeks good in the world around me, and pursues it.
- Controversial topics rarely edify those who “listen” in the public forum.
Words can bring healing or cut like a dagger. They have the power to bring freedom or implement bondage.
Invite or alienate.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
Christ-follower, your “neighbors” are listening. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and ask yourself how you come across to them. Would you approach, YOU, if you were someone who largely disagreed with your views? Are you being kind and gentle while still being a man or woman of integrity?
I’ll tell you what. I know a lot of beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ who are being staunch and vocal about the debate of 50 Shades of Gray. They are signing petitions and doling out heaping measures of guilt. I love these people. But every time I see them rail on this film and those “Hollywood” people that my husband and I have given up EVERYTHING to reach and to love in practical ways, our job as faith-friendly producers and missionaries in a very secular environment gets that much harder. We get lumped into that pool of “Christians” who are judgmental and hateful. And all those people who we care about so deeply retreat a little further from our message of the Gospel.
I could just weep over it. And I have.
I don’t feel grace or benefited when I see Christ-followers waving banners of protest and shaming the world for being the world. I feel sick. Disgusted. Saddened.
Anything but edified.
Listen, I’m not saying that we shouldn't have convictions about issues, but I think we need to reconsider the forum and the decorum with which we discuss these matters.
Live your life quietly. Love God. Love others unconditionally-even those who will see 50 Shades of Gray this weekend.
Radiate joy in good times and bad.
Make choices that are counter-culture and raise your kids to do the same.
Be satisfied in Christ and the world will take notice.
And because you are known for your kindness and convictions that you live out in everyday life, you will be given opportunities to share Christ in a personal way.
The light of your life is more effective than a thousand petitions. And far more reflective of Christ who pulled up a chair to eat with “sinners” whom he preferred over the self-righteous of His day.
Be a light on a hill that welcomes the lost and the weary and when the many gray areas of this world dim and begin to reveal themselves for the darkness and void that they are. The light you radiate in word and deed will be a welcome change in the world around you.
YOUR TURN! What do you think are the best ways to stand for your beliefs while also loving others?
(NOTE: This post is not meant to be a discussion about whether or not you or anyone should or should not see this particular film. It's a discussion of the "forum and decorum" of how we engage culture regarding issues of morality as Christ-followers. If your comments don't fit the nature of the discussion, they will most likely be removed.)