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Engaging the Culture in Winsome Ways (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2022 6:00 am

Engaging the Culture in Winsome Ways (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 18, 2022 6:00 am

In this conversation, Philip Yancey describes how you can be a bridge to the Gospel in a culture that’s thirsty for the Good News. Tune in to hear how three types of Christians in particular – pilgrims, activists, and artists – can serve as conduits of God’s grace. (Part 1 of 2)

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Somehow or communicating the opposite of what you should come across flawed people, thirsty people found the source of counsel satisfies and changes us in this good news to me like you have two cats Philip Yancey and he's our guest today on Focus on the Family to share how you can be a witness for the gospel in a winsome way. I do hope you'll stay with us for this important conversation. Thanks for joining us today your hostess focus presidents and author Jim Daly and I'm John from John always enjoyed talking to Philip. He's a best-selling author, and most importantly, spent years investigating how we can be salt and light as followers of iced and today Philip will share fascinating examples of how we can balance truth and love. When we engage nonbelievers yeah and Philip is written a number of books exploring questions of faith and were about to your conversation. Jim based on his book vanishing grace.

Whatever happened to the good news. Here's how Jim you began the conversation John in the New Testament introduces Jesus is the word who became flesh, full of grace and truth. That's right. I John one and is not easy, but as followers of Christ were called to engage others in love and truth, and it is the eternal battle.

I think for all of us as Christians I know I miss the mark before I strive to do it well. I'm pleased when I do that well. But again, it's just very difficult depending upon the circumstances, and Philip. It is great to have you with us. Thank you, my pleasure, and then somebody started with that quote from John because I look at Jesus, holding out to hands grace and truth, and I look at church history, and we worked really hard on that truth part. Let last I heard there were like 45,000 denominations in the world and everyone thinks they've got a little little more corner of the truth and the other 49,999 and I just wish we had denominations who would be striving to be more grace filled than anybody.

Let's start there. I mean that difference we all talk about it.

We all struggle with it. I knew a Christian leader who once told me you know I understand God's grace, but sometimes when it comes to those that don't believe the way I believe. I'm afraid I'm going to become their friend and capitulate on the principles. I think that's it well stated concern are well stated fear that some people depend upon your personality type you might call back because you think man if I like them.

I might give then I have thought of that before.

That's I suppose there is a danger and I think probably the way to avoid that is just to be plugged into a community of shared values so that you get recharged whenever you're around them, whether it's a small group or a church service and we have this model in the early church we keep going back there because it works so well actually there weren't many missionaries in the early church there were many evangelists they kept to themselves but they would come together, they would worship God they would encourage you and then they would go out and they were different than other people in the Roman Empire and ultimately as people look at the way they live. They said I can rather be one of those people than me like they got in and I think that's how the church works best if we if we put out a sign of contradiction with the rest the culture around us. Our culture is very celebrity oriented and it is it's very success oriented, achievement oriented, and Christians say well we were also supposed to care about other people. People who are very successful achievement oriented winter to serve. I think about that.

The for the end of John, when Jesus had his last night with the disciples and it's a beautiful passage on 13 to 17 where it was his last shot. Basically he's giving them the final instructions and then he's going to leave. He's going to send first died and resurrected and then send but this is his last time to give what's most important and I go back in course he starts by washing their feet are here to serve others not to be served and then he says the mark of a follower of me is love and that's what people ought to think. Oh, that person loves a lot must be a Christian. Yeah Jesus follower and unity.

They said boy I wish I wish you and the church to follow, would have the same kind of unity that we enjoy in the Trinity yeah will will unpack that over the next few minutes and I you know several things. The early church.

The idea of love. Let's start with the recent Barna study that found nearly half of non-Christians have negative feelings toward evangelicals that that's something right there. Although I do understand that you know the word will become a stumbling block is one reference. You know Jesus reference bringing division because of you know the distinction between the world and his followers so that's going to be there but why is you know the concern around half of the nonbelievers feeling like Christians. They have negative feelings toward Christians what what he think that exactly what struck me about the Barna survey is that just maybe 20 years before 85% of non-Christians had a positive view of Christians. So maybe they really didn't believe in and they went and interested in being religious themselves. But if a Christian was a neighbor will that's a good thing you know will be a good role model for your kids and maybe low cut the grass. If you're if you got a broken ankle herself think. And now, more than half say I don't want to live with next order one of those Christians and Barna tried to investigate and find out what had happened in that 20 year period and a lot of it had to do with divisive politics where Christians became more identified certainly in media through a political lens.

If you read the New York Times or time magazine and try to figure out what is an evangelical, you would think oh it's a radical conservative Republican right.

That's what the that's what the media portrays and in some ways we are conservative in some ways were not. It depends on the issue right know our our issues are our going to be a little different, always from the surrounding culture because we take them from the Bible in the rest of culture doesn't always you know, one of the difficult questions in that regard is you know one party does line up with a lot of the things that many Christians believe like the right to life and the support of the police and all kinds of things like that and again taking care of the poor tends to lean in the Democratic direction.

So if you cannot mean it hit that one because it's so true it's it's complex well I think of story I heard from the director of the evangelical alliance in the UK much like our national Association of Evangelicals and when John major was the Prime Minister. This would have been right 30 years ago or so. He called in and said here about all these evangelicals and I'm interested in them you hello I want to appeal for their votes, but I can figure them out.

Can you tell me or they pollute are they conservative are the liberal and so the head of the evangelical and said well let's see that's going on the list here. They care about the poor.

So some people say that liberal but there there strongly pro-life and against and infanticide and euthanasia somebody would say that's conservative they're against racism people.

Some people say that's liberal. They support the rights of women. Some people say that liberal but they believe only in insects and within a marriage, many would say that's conservative and he went down the list and he said you tell me right major civil I guess they're neither one well there little bit of both hands on the issue. I think there is a fine art. If I can describe it that way to embracing those things that are biblical like I would say the pro-life effort and then keeping your eyes and ears open to things like helping the poor, you know. And again, people will say well that's not governments wrote it's the church's role but in soberness you have to say that you know the government has more wherewithal to put your money and resources toward effort, then the Christian church does all of the Christian church has a great history of taking care of the poor. You mentioned two types of Christians, the pre-Christian and post-Christian what what you mean by those two descriptions sometimes. I've done this so often I'll be sitting on an airplane or in the lobby somewhere and I'll start talking and people will say what you do well, I'm a writer.

What you write about and I explained some of my books and one of those religious writers well most of the time that you these are matters of faith that I care about. Well, used to be a Christian and then will tell me some story about being wounded by the church the way you treated somebody or maybe they didn't like it stance on science or or a divorced person mistreated her a gay person mistreated and you know they just tell me some sad story and expecting to defend the church and instead I kind of laugh and say always. It's worse than that limit, they must and I have just written his memoir, where the light fell the describes the toxic church I grew up in, and it was in the South.

It was on the wrong side of the civil rights movement and and a lot of things, and yet I'll say to them deet. Do you really think it's a good trade to trade away the possibility of connecting with the Lord of the universe because of the way some old lady treated your friend 30 years ago.

That is a great question is same when I asked what they really are to give up salvation and that's a hell of a post-Christian because they been got wound there and then you meet other people who really have no exposure in the county, fascinated. You know they they know that people care about religion and they see things on television and they just really never met somebody that'll sit down and talk to them about what they believe you have it. Usually you need a different approach. There just to explain so much that's good in our society comes directly out of the church, human rights and and care for the environment and education and medical care.

You know these all have Christian roots very deeply very true I I remember encountering a woman in the abortion industry and we had a great discussion and a member when she first came into my office. She was shaking and said are you okay she said well my friend said you're gonna put a voodoo taxonomy. I laugh say what would you know that Christianity and she said really nothing I just think you want to try to kill us. I said nothing could be further from the truth. You know that you mind if I could share with you what it is we believe, and she said in this really haunted me. She said I would appreciate that because no one's ever taken the time to tell you make we make the assumption that if you're on the other side of something we believe that you you calculated and made the decision that you are against God, and that thing whether it's wife or something like that. And sometimes they've never even heard the alternative will answer you know that story Jim about the original Jane Roe, Roe versus Wade. First, the head of operational risk you would would follow her around and yell baby killer and things like that and then they got a new head and he ended up being in the same complex where she worked with Planned Parenthood and she would go out for a cigarette break and he started sitting with her during her break and change her completely and she eventually renounced her former position and became a Christian, you mentioned in the book this idea that nonbelievers are lost are people who are thirsty, potentially, that God's love is for every person. II totally ascribed to that because I think it's so true and so accurate.

I don't think God's against anybody.

He wants everyone to know him and how do you how you remember that we are in the heat of the spiritual battle neighbor or something like that. Chuck Colson told me once, and I don't think he coined it, but he used it often and that is you don't get mad at a blind man who steps on your foot high and he parlayed that into spiritually.

Don't get mad at people that don't understand the way of God. It's very good and I think it's true.

It's been a guiding principle for me. I I got that phrase thirsty from Henry now and I'm sure you know the name right. Henry was a priest spoke a lot of times two evangelical audiences spent the last part of his life, not at Harvard and Yale. Earlier taught working with the severely mentally challenged people and large in Toronto.

Back when the AIDS epidemic first started soliciting then when Ronald Reagan was president really he heard about this disease and he heard that there were a lot of gay men. It was extra called the game in syndrome by the CDC back then because almost everybody that was reporting a strange disease were part of the homosexual male community so I heard there was that there was a clinic going on in San Francisco and he flew out there and he said it was it was just so sad an open ward and all these guys were going to die soon because there was no treatment at all, and in those days is that I just went up and down the rows of men in the said and I said I'm a priest so I like to listen to people stories is what we do can you tell me your story is that some of the almost spit item is an unwanted stuff.

This religious stuff, but others would tell their stories and he said again and again.

I heard people who were thirsting for love and I would say did you find that it didn't satisfy you and he went on in and talk about the woman at the well and Jesus. I see that your thirsting has a water satisfied, you know, it hasn't. Would you like to know living water that does satisfy you. He said when I returned from that. My prayers changed when I was around people that offended me in some way. I used to pray Lord help them to see the lighter of me to be kind to these morally offensive persons. He said now I pray for thirsty people got help me to see those that even offend me as thirsty people.

If I could see them as thirsty people and realize my job is to point them to the living water that indeed satisfies that really turned a corner and how he prayed and how he saw people that he disagreed with profoundly now you know that reminds me of the theologian that I know who still living who said to me on the phone one time quite appropriately. I think were talked about some difficulties in the culture and he was referring to some Christians that were edgy, very upset about some things, probably in the political arena and he said man, you don't have to go out of your way to be hated, and I that's another great statement that you know the offense of the gospel should be the offense not you and your personality and I that's another guiding principle. You know that if you're the one preventing someone from coming to know the Lord you're in some deep weeds there spiritually in my head. And if it's your personality or aggression in your behavior toward someone who doesn't know the Lord. That's what's preventing it. You don't wear that as a badge because I don't think the Lord will be happy with that. In the end speak the truth, but do so in love relate to that them in the clanging symbol and all the great scriptures you have that you don't have love, you really don't have anything we tend to ignore those we do and it reminds me of a great phrase from Martin Luther King Jr. who of course was very religious man. He was a clergyman and he said we have to fight for some issues there that are worth fighting, but we use different weapons we use the weapons of grace.

Still, you have a story about a Christian filmmaker who attended Sundance film Festival. What happened in that context, I think these illustrations are really helpful for us right yeah he takes a group of seminary students from Fuller seminary, where he teaches classes in filmmaking descendents and Sundance is primarily the Hollywood edgy independent film that you know things that you would need to get across, started by Robert Redford. I think that's right.

Yeah. And so he had a group of about 20 Christians and they attended this one that was film was making fun of the church and how ridiculous it was and how strict and and just a lot of negatives about the church and people were hooting and hollering. Yeah, you know, those are people who'd been wounded probably and one point and so they had an audience interaction time couple people ask questions and then he stood up and said my name is so-and-so and I'm from an evangelical Christian and I come from Fuller seminary things went really quiet and he said I just want to apologize for the ways that the churches is wounded. Some of you. I don't agree with everything you said in the film, but some of its true and I know it's true and and we're wrong and I'm sorry and sat down. He said it was to silent and afterwards all these people came up to him and said I've never heard of Christian apologize. Thank you so much for that limiting my story and they would tell their story and he's been going ever since he takes us that same group every year so he's got to know some of the filmmakers and stains the whole spirit of the kind of the anti-Christian spirit of the festival. They have a Christians have a place of a voice there now is an attractive voice now defensively. You know Philip I had an experience similar to that and I never shared this publicly. And again, but names are important, but I remember reaching out to someone in the LGBT Q community to ask him if he wanted to have coffee just to meet and I know that that group and that particular organization size as enemies and as part of that. I wanted to let him know I'm a human being just like he is basically so we met at the coffee place and it was profound. He brought a bunch of research that he had looked at her website and had some corrections for us in the way that we use terminology in that space. The LGB GQ space and yes I thanked him for that.

Thanks for doing that homework I'll take a look at have the team you know make sure that were in agreement on those things that I remember saying to him, and I'm sitting here having this wrestling match with the war going or why did you want me to meet with him because I did feel that impression from the Lord to do this to reach out and what wafted through my mind and through my heart was tell them I love them unit you can imagine the conversation that immediately starts happening.

What are you sure of said public coffee place but I did it I just said to him, hey, I think the only reason that I wanted to meet today's let you know something and that is God loves you only started crying right at the table, I say, could you tell me why it's touched a nerve and he said I just never expected anyone from Focus on the Family to tell a gay man that God loved him and that you know that it looks that mean that is the profound truth. And it's not you know that no sin keeps us from God. God knows us he loves us. He created us and I just felt like wow you know we don't we shouldn't supersize sentence right here. Sin is sin.

According to Scripture and if I look at a woman have lost my heart. The Lord set I have already committed adultery right so to get rid of that one going to edit the book will every every religion says that God loves good people is nothing new, but Jesus came with a different message. God loves bad people and I'm not one is rather yeah right and you look at his parables look at the people he hung around, who's the hero of the parable of the prodigal son is the older brother did everything right now it looks pretty bad in Jesus story. It's the prodigal did everything wrong and that God love them anyway. God loves enemies countless bad people and the scene in the temple where there is a Pharisee same black daughter. Not that guy over there. He's a center in the center only has one prayer. God help me I'm a sinner in Jesus which prayers God listen to and is pretty clear what the answer is the one who admits the need and grace. This is absolutely free. You can do anything to earn it deservedly so. 10 steps. I can give to you to make God love you it doesn't work that way. God already loves you. And grace is free, but it's a gift, and to receive a gift you have to have open hands.

If your hands are close tight in a fist which some religious people do. I'm better than 99% of people in this country then you miss the gift of grace and falls to the ground right and eat when you're reading, especially the Gospels of Jesus's interaction with people with really profound. If you try to take in the aroma of what he's encountering. He seems to like to hang out with centers in Matthew the tax collector or the woman at the well that we talked about the woman caught in adultery. I mean, it seems like those are people that knew what truth is better than the religious leaders at the time they knew what they were running they didn't measure up right and when he pointed it out. Boom. Their hearts went toward him as opposed to the religious people who thought they had it all together and then ended up hating him to the point of growling to crucify him.

I remember when I was writing the book the Jesus I never knew I was puzzled by why Jesus was so upset that the Pharisees, because as I was doing research. It seemed like they were closest to what he believed and how he behaved as anybody on on earth you know they they worked to follow every one of the laws in the Old Testament. They were Bible believing they were teaching you know and yet in in chapters like Matthew 23 Luke 11 Jesus is really pretty tough Pharisee under whitewashed tombs.

You know, and the more I read about it the more I decided the problem with Pharisees is that they hung around of the Pharisees all day and they started competing. Jesus was scornful. Here you type your kitchen spices or salt-and-pepper your home and your oregano.

Whatever you make sure the church gets 10%, but there are these huge issues of injustice going on around you and you don't care about those things. And if you're around people who are just like you and really distort your vision and that's why it's so important as Jesus told us to go out and serve people who are unlike us. If you hang out in a homeless shelter.

If you hang out in a prison. You're going to be tested. Your faith is going to be tested and you're going to you're going to understand. It's easy to categorize these people to dismiss them to think of them as kind of a sociological group and you get to know them as human beings. Then you can feel the compassion that eventually attracted people to Jesus in his day, and should attract people to us. Absolutely. Just reading the New Testament several times, obviously. And you start looking for the core themes there so many so many wonderful things in the New Testament Old Testament tube but Jesus arrives and we cannot tilt into that New Testament teaching that he gives us. But two things seem like you know billboards for me. One is salvation through Christ and Christ alone and don't become a Pharisee to billboards of the New Testament and it sends a message you know that don't think more highly of yourself and you should take a reminds me of the little anecdote that I put in this book, managing grace and somebody had surveyed the three phrases people most want to hear the first one is I love you.

The second one. His eyes I'm sorry the third one is suppers ready and this preacher said that's a good summary of the gospel in what way. Well, that God loves us that he accepts our apology, our repentance, and there's a feast waiting for us. That is good. What a good place to land, FL. This is been such a good conversation.

We have more to cover so let's come back next time. Keep the conversation going to redo it. Let's do it and I concludes part one of the great conversation Jim that you had with Philip Yancey and I really appreciate how he highlighted the gospel as Philip said, so simply, God loves you he forgives you he invites you to enjoy fellowship with him and for listeners. Be sure to join us tomorrow for part two of the discussion now in the meantime you can find more resources on our website to help you win your spiritual walk weave a free booklet that you can download is called coming home. It's a terrific little resource to share with friends or loved ones. It describes very simply, what it means to trust in Christ. You'll find it in the episode notes and if you're a believer in Christ, consider helping us share the good news with others. A monthly pledge to Focus on the Family is a great way to do that. We rely on partners who can provide ongoing support to stabilize her budget and plan for ministry in the months ahead. In a course one time gift would be helpful as well. When you make a pledge or a donation today. We'd love to send you a copy of vanishing grace as our way of saying thank donate. As you can to the ministry and request your copy of vanishing grace. Whatever happened to the good news is that when you call 800 K in the word, 800-232-6459 four. Once again the link is in the episode notes on behalf of Jim Daly in the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Soon the Supreme Court will make its historic decision on abortion in the Dobbs versus Jackson case, one that could overturn Roe P Way, what will the verdict mean and how should we respond as emotions run high as Christians we need to be ready and Focus on the Family can help you prepare starting May 2 will share inspiring stories from people base their own pro-life moments and experience God's love to learn more moment

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