Connecting Faith is ideally a conversation. So when a listener, Frank, called into the show to ask,
“How do you deal with a person who says ‘you’re a bigot,’ resorts to name calling, and shuts the door to dialogue without hearing another viewpoint?”
I was grateful! In my book, Speak the Truth: How to Bring God Back into Every Conversation, I address this question at the necessary starting point: the mind and Spirit of Christ.
When the mind of Christ is our operating system and the Spirit of Christ is in control, the world not only looks different, but we are different in it. That changes everything. That changes how we see other people, our circumstances and the opportunities to glorify God.
Regular people with regular challenges, living regular lives came to live differently after they encountered Jesus.
Did all their troubles magically cease? No. Did all poverty vanish? No. Was all sickness healed? No. Was the tyranny of an oppressive government overthrown? No. Did the practice of slavery come to an end? No. Did they get out of paying taxes? No. It is not about how God might change our circumstance, but how God changes us in the midst of it.
We have infinitely more power than we access and infinitely more influence than we use. What difference would it make for you to intentionally engage with the people who are working on challenges like those listed above? I don’t know, but I know when an ambassador from the Kingdom of Heaven is present, the conversation changes. People are treated with greater dignity. Words are less coarse. Proposals are more generous. Generative solutions are more numerous. Why? Because the Spirit of God is brought to bear and the spirit of the world is pressed down. The principle is simple and true: darkness cannot remain when light enters. The call is to go and be shiny.
So what does this call to go and be shiny look like in our lives?
Shiny looks like the person who has suited up, is standing up and speaking up. But not in their own power and not for their own glory. You have the opportunity to be in Christ and stand in the Way of Christ, which means that the flaming arrows of the Evil One being deployed as hateful speech and accusation, are really aimed at Jesus. You are just standing in the way.
Shiny people have the heart of the Father and are on mission of the Son. A few hateful words do not have to deter you from your divine mission. Your light can shine in so many ways that others will see God’s good works and glorify Him who is in heaven. You can live among your pagan neighbors even though they slander Him as an evildoer and they can be inexplicably be drawn to God through you.John Inazu on engaging across differences