DC Talk came out with an album in 1995 that seemed to carve a new niche in the genre of "contemporary Christian music." The name of the CD was Jesus Freak and it will be forever memorable not only because of its overall loudness (a far cry from their hip hop days) but also for its hard hitting lyrics that were unafraid to get into our faces. One song on the album, What if I Stumble?, begins with the grainy audio of a quote that might provide the most memorable clip from this entire work:
The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. (Attributed to Brennan Manning)
With those words, so many Christians were instantly convicted and driven to make changes not just within themselves but also in the church culture in which they live and worship. Whether or not inconsistent Christians are the greatest cause of atheism or not, the truth of the quote remains. The world is watching Christians now more than ever and the challenges to the Christian faith certainly seem to be mounting.

In light of North Carolina's recent passage of Amendment One, many in the world of social media have set out to defend or defame not just the actual substance of the amendment itself but also those who chose to support or deny it. Bloggers more capable than me have already written eloquently on the subject, but for the most part the vitriol dripping from the internet is overwhelming.

So what I don't want to do is be one of those guys who adds nothing to the discussion that has already been said. Instead, I want to address my brothers and sisters in Christ specifically. If you are not a follower of Christ or you were staunchly against Amendment One, then this does not exclude you reading further. In fact, I would love for you too so that you can also be part of the conversation.

The world we live in has greatly changed. Personal experience has become trumped by the opinions of others. For instance, I find it funny when one of my kids tells me that they don't like a certain kind of food when they have never tried it before. Yet that is a predominate view in our culture today as well. One no longer has to worry himself with getting his hands dirty. If others say it's good or bad, then it's good or bad. This is not to say that the advice of others should not be heeded or trusted but rather it speaks to the intellectual laziness of our consumer culture. If we can read enough internet sites or Facebook quotes or watch another documentary then we become convinced that our knowledge base is solid and that we are informed.

This worldview, unfortunately, robs us of many things. Discernment, integrity, honest discussion and debate, and a willingness to learn has been sacrificed in many cases. Our "broad" view of issues is really only a mask to the narrow view that we truly espouse. And much of this is based on our feelings of what we believe is right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair. After all, if our hearts are pulled in a certain direction by the words or experiences of others, then we are totally justified in putting our eggs in that one basket, right?

I am not saying that we go back to an existential styled world view (based on our own experiences) but rather that we go all the way back to the source of truth, and that is Jesus Himself. All Christians should agree that our center point is Christ and not some logical deduction that makes sense to us or some experience that makes us feel more validated. These things might feed from Christ but they do not replace Him. And if we are going to maintain everything on the truth of Christ and His gospel, then what we need now more than ever is consistency.

The same tired arguments have been battered around the past couple of days, many of which attempt to (mis)use Scripture to support their causes. Jesus said don't judge. Jesus loves everyone. The Old Testament is not valid when it comes to moral arguments. The list goes on and blame goes to both sides of the argument. Whether it is justifiable or not, many who are critical of the Christian faith are so because of what they perceive from Christians, not the substance of truth itself. It would be great if all critics would study the teachings of Jesus and see that His compassion and love never replaced His calls for repentance. He died a brutal death to forgive us for sins that we have committed. If it was all about love and peace and hugs and everybody being okay, then the cross would have just been a waste of His time.

Many who claim to follow Christ have carried themselves in less than acceptable ways not just in the past few days but in the past couple of millenia. Yes, our God is perfect and we are not, but that is no excuse for being an idiot. If people refuse to look to God for truth but instead choose to micromanage our lives, then it is obvious they don't desire to seek God at all. But as harbingers of the mysteries of God, it is paramount that our lives reflect the grace that has so radically changed us.

1 Peter 2:11-12 is one of many passages of Scripture that serves as clarion call to followers of Christ that we need to heed now more than ever:
Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do evil, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in a day of visitation.
The challenges that lay before Christians and the church today are huge. We desire to reach the lost and in doing so we live among them yet we know that the truth and integrity of God's word cannot be compromised just so that a non-believer will have a better opinion of us. The end goal is not to be likable or cool, but rather it's redemption.

We cannot force others to see the beauty of Christ and His gospel. But we can live lives that shine that beauty and that will point those who do not believe to that truth. When we remain consistent in the Christian faith we will bring glory to God which is the ultimate desire of a redeemed life.

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