Friday, 18 November 2011

Turning a Complaint Into A Positive Opportunity

Ever done something and heard someone pipe up- "I didn't think Christians behaved that way!" If you haven't had it said about yourself, you have had said it about other Christians. Here's a great way that just might turn this negative moment into a positive opportunity...

I recently heard of this type of complaint from a pre-Christian about a group of Christians. For the moment, I don't want to mention what this group of believers had done, but it is certainly a common complaint. Of course, the complaint can sometimes be justified: Christians do sometimes behave badly and the world knows it! When Christians behave badly they bring shame to the Cause and Body of Christ. To have this highlighted by the world is a negative moment. But even this moment can be turned around into a positive opportunity.

The next time you hear this type of complaint (either about yourself or someone else) here's a very simple and elegant question to respond with: "When you say 'Christian', what do you mean? That is, what is a Christian?". Listen closely to their answer. It will probably be answer that spells Christianity - D O. That is, instead of defining a Christian they'll probably describe Christian behaviour instead.

Thus, this presents an ideal opportunity to winsomely correct this misapprehension about what a Christian is. Using a paper-napkin you could write the word "D O" on the serviette to sum up what they said to define a Christian. You could then ask them if it would be OK to give them the definition that the Bible used? If they consented, you could then add " N E " to form the word: " D O N E ".

Marvellous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?
Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin! 
[365. Grace Greater than Our Sin, Julia H. Johnston]
This week I had a troubled soul come and see me. We conversed then I asked the question I've just championed:What is a Christian? In summary their answer was a " D O " answer. After sharing with them about the grace of God through Jesus, and explaining that the only One invited into God's Presence is Jesus and that unless you are "in Christ" you can not go to Heaven or be reconciled to God for eternity, I asked them if they would like to become a Christian. They said, with tears flowing, "Yes I would." We prayed together and the work of the Spirit in this person's life starts a fresh new chapter.

fig tree figsBut what was the cause of the original complaint about inappropriate Christian behaviour? A group of Christians had told someone that sexual immorality was a sin. For this "intolerance" they were accused of acting "unchristianly". It would have been very easy to argue the point that Christians are not meant to be tolerate of everything. But this would have been a distraction from turning this negative moment into a positive opportunity.
First Peter 3:15 "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
Of course, there will be times when the world highlights actual bad behaviour by Christians. If that Christian is you, then perhaps the best response is to apologise to the complainer for misrepresenting Christ, and then apologise to your Lord. But this too can be turned into a positive opportunity for promoting Christ's gracious offer of reconciliation with God the Father.
Father, give us Your heart for people. Help us to walk blamelessly before You and the World. May we have soft, compassionate, hearts toward others and feel the responsibility we have to be good ambassadors for You, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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