In Dallas Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy he poses the question, “What then are we to say about the multitudes, right and left across the theological spectrum, who today self-identify as Christians while having hardly a whiff of Christlikeness about them ….” By the word “Christlikeness” Williard does not mean intangible internal qualities but rather visible and identifiable characteristics, behavior and actions that look like Jesus. We rightly have the impression that the longer we are Christians living under Christ’s Lordship the more others should notice a difference in our life. Yet when we take an honest look at our habits, words, behaviors and lifestyle, often we cannot see a difference between our life and that of our secular, materialistic neighbor, making our evangelism impotent and/or hypocritical. So we opt to stop addressing the issue of sin rather than confront our own sinful actions, words and behaviors.
Or, if our evangelism is not hindered by our own sinful actions and lifestyle, it is hindered because we are unsure what words, actions, behaviors and lifestyles still qualify as ‘sin’ and are therefore rendered to silence. In light of the hurtful and insulting ways some Christians have attempted to speak about sinful actions and lifestyles, it is no wonder those who are more personally and socially sensitive would shy away from behavior that could be misconstrued as typically harsh and condemning.
So what choices do we have as 21st century American Christians? How can we address sinful behavior in a society that in some cases does not recognize such behaviors or lifestyles as sinful? Are we evangelists with nothing to say? Or is there good news even for people in a society struggling to identify what is sin and what is not?
I’d like to hear your thoughts about this before the next post in this series.