David asks me, “Jerry – How do we begin to change that perception? You give tremendous examples of evangelicals who are serving and loving – how do we get more and more Christians to do that? Christians, for instance, like me?”
David, you must realize those are two loaded and very different questions. There is no changing the perception. I say that the true Evangelical leaders are servants, and Jeff says beware of and frankly disbelieve leaders who claim to be servants. (My point, of course, was that it isn’t the political leaders who are true leaders but rather the sincere servants — those who don’t claim anything.)
So even if we somehow got more Christians to truly serve selflessly, those who have formed generalized opinions of Evangelicals (thanks to a few noisy ones) will still claim they know what we’re all about: that we hate gays, want to control women’s bodies, vote straight Republican, honor Israel only because we believe a certain number of Jews have to be converted before Jesus can return — and that this honoring involves unquestioning support of every political and military decision made by the Knesset, insist on a Christian nation, and gloat over John 14:6, wherein Jesus is quoted as being the only way to God.
In fact, a true follower of Christ:
– loves gays,
– ministers to HIV victims,
– votes his heart and conscience,
– seeks to understand those who disagree with him on the sanctity of human life (striving for dialogue, not standoffs, and certainly not violence),
– honors Israel as God’s chosen people but doesn’t carry that to ridiculous political and military extremes (nor does he believe anything has to happen to anyone anywhere before Jesus returns),
– and is grateful to live in a country where he is free to espouse his religious convictions and gladly allows other to do the same.
As for John 14:6, it should break our hearts and make us simply want to share it with others. What they do with the news is up to them. They are as free as we are to accept it or to scoff or disagree or be offended. We need to still love them, respect them, care about them, and associate with them. Triumphalism or condescension has no place in the Christ follower’s heart, unless we want to be lumped with fundamentalists of other religions who consider it obedience to their god to fly airplanes into the buildings of those they consider their enemies.
As for how we get more Christians to be servants, I fear our only hope is to point them back to the Bible to read the truth about Jesus and what He taught about the disenfranchised and the oppressed. The New Testament is all about preferring others over ourselves, not feathering our own nests or having our own way. People will not be goaded or shamed into living Christlike lives. It must come from within, in response to the real, hard teachings of the One they claim to follow.