Focus on the Family’s President Says It’s Time to “Refocus”
Our culture is in turmoil, says Jim Daly. Once there was cohesiveness. Our moral code was built on Christian principles. Now, we look around and wonder "How did we get to such a place as we find ourselves?”
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
already been produced and was ready for broadcast. But Daly pulled it.
Doesn’t it hurt to be so viciously and unjustly attacked? How can an organization that stands for good be so fervidly accused of evil? Isaiah 5:20 warns: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
But these are difficult times – and Christians are going to have adjust their presentation in order to be heard, he says. “We’ve focused a lot on righteousness and living righteously – and that is obviously important. But we have to look at God’s grace, too.
“Truth is important, but God’s love is critically important as well. It’s what opens ears and hearts. We have to remember that those who don’t agree with our faith, or our ideology or our religion are not the enemy. They are men and women, like us, created in the image of God and deserving our respect.”
And that’s the theme of his book. He says it’s time that Christians refocus – “looking at making sure we’re offering as much love to the culture as we are truth.
“You know, Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners and really mixing it up with people who were of the world. That’s what the Pharisees didn’t like about Him, yet it’s the model that Jesus left for us. And it changed the world.”
Daly knows the frustration of spending precious time and dollars in the political arena, then having little results to show for it. With an annual budget approaching $100 million, Focus on the Family spent millions promoting Christian values in the last election. And now, he says, he finds himself thinking these days more about the big picture – the Great Commission, winning the world for Jesus – and less about political platforms.
“So often we expect the world to act like Christians. We’re very grace-filled toward the church acting like the world.” Daly says we must turn that around. “One way to do that is to live out our faith in front of the world in such a way that it glorifies God and brings honor to Him – in our marriages, our families and every area of our life.”
And perhaps it’s time to rethink politics and the church, he says.
“We can’t compromise our principles,” he says. “However, when we divide along party lines, it robs the discussion and the debate. We need to interact with others in a way that will consistently reveal the heart of God to a desperately hurting world. The moral issues of our day transcend the political debate.”
Christians often forget there’s a larger audience out there, he says. Just preaching to the faithful isn’t changing the world. “When we’re just talking to each other and patting each other on the back, we’re not making any progress. But if we engage those on the other side of the ideological spectrum to open up the discussion, to understand each other’s concerns more straight forwardly rather than in terms of caricature, that’s a helpful thing.”
He recalls an invitation he received to participate in a debate at a local college at the invitation of a religion and philosophy professor. He said he realized it was unwise to go into the debate “thinking in terms of score cards – of something I’ve got to win – that I’ve got to win the debate, I’ve got to win, I’ve got to triumph over this person’s ideology or position.
“What Jesus models and what the New Testament teaches is influence.”
He points to the early days of Christianity – the years of terrible persecution of Christians.
“Look at the early church,” says Daly. “The message then was convincing Rome that Christianity was a good thing, such as the way that Jesus elevated women, the way that the Christian community in the early first, second and third centuries developed hospitals and charities and orphanages.
“They did the things we call orthopraxy – the doing of the word. They did those things out of their love for Christ which benefited all. It was so shocking to the culture of that day. But it was Christians’ humanity that it caught their attention.”
The Romans found themselves asking, “Well, why do these Christians love the way they do? Why do they go and care for the downtrodden. Why do they reach out to the sick and contagious of Rome with no regard for their own well being? That puzzled the pagan Romans,” says Daly.
Should Christians just withdraw from the political arena?
“No, I don’t think that’s helpful to the culture,” he responds. “There are two camps – those who would withdraw from debate and instead plan