People like to be liked. Or at least people don’t like to be disliked. Throughout history, culture has a way of rubbing against the gospel grain. And as Christians we find ourselves in a difficult space: a space where we are forced to either stand in the convictions of scripture or be swept up in the trends of the current cultural fervor. While most believers would never trumpet the latter, the former is never as simple as it sounds. All of us have been faced with circumstances where standing firm in conviction would result in offending or hurting someone. Often times though, those moments are in fact where the gateway to the gospel is open widest. While avoiding conversations about sexuality, marriage, truth, and religion will certainly keep tempers at a minimum, it will also deflect an invitation to present the gospel in a winsome way. Finding yourself in that space of controversy is one of the easiest ways to engage your co-workers, friends and family with the treasure of Jesus.
It starts with an identity. If you are unsure about who you are at the core, if your personhood isn’t grounded and rooted in faith, you don’t have a place of conviction. Fortunately for us this is the easy part because it is God’s part. A biblical worldview begins and ends with the gospel. By building upon the gospel, a solid unwavering foundation is set and only then can a gospel-centered worldview ultimately harmonize. 1 Corinthians 3:11 says “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Any other starting point will not and cannot stand the test of time, the test of fire, the test of trial, or the test of a controversial topic. Starting with faith in Jesus will always give the believer everlasting and unchanging truth to hold on to and to build upon.
What then is built upon the foundation of the gospel? The special revelation of scripture is our objective standard for truth, morality, spirituality, and the like. Many Christians have skipped this part and drawn conclusions contrary to the character of God all in the name of love and peace. If we skip the part about truth, then the convictions we have in regards to morality and the spiritual aren’t convictions, they are in fact opinions built on nothing but a fallen and finite imagination. 2 Timothy3:16-17 is a well-known and often quoted verse, and for good reason. It speaks clearly to the nature and purpose of scripture: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the messenger of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” What equips us for life as a messenger of God, a follower of Jesus, are the very words of God: The Bible. Having a conviction on truth allows for the believer to enter in such discussions and conversations. If we want to do more than just ride the fence of controversy and concurrence, then we must have assurance and certainty as to what we believe.
So we’re good right?
We have faith, and we have a worldview built on scripture, so we can start doling out intellectual punishment on immorality and falsehood, right? Well, if we follow step two correctly, then no, we’re not even close. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing if I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have no love, I gain nothing.” Paul also says in Romans 9:3, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers and sisters, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Our motivations for entering into difficult conversations should always come from a place of love and compassion for the souls of the saved and the lost alike. Caring about a person’s eternity changes the approach. It is not enough to be right. Instead of beating the opposition over the head with a Bible, we shower our friends, family, and neighbors with compassion and empathy. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Genuine love bears genuine results.
Equipped with love, we will challenge the direction of the conversation. As we decided earlier, it begins and ends with the gospel. We begin foundationally with Jesus, and we end with the goal of glorifying and pointing to Jesus. Anytime we then find culture opposed to Christianity we find a window of opportunity. Therefore, we leap at the opportunity to talk about sexuality because we can then talk about identity, and the only One who satisfies humanity’s hunger for it. I would argue there is no more organic tool for spreading the gospel than engaging in hard conversations. So then, the discomfort that comes with culture’s battle with the Bible is no longer restlessly foreign; rather, it becomes awkwardly agreeable. With truth built upon a gospel foundation and loving motivation to see the treasure of Jesus grab the heart of everyone we know and don’t, we welcome controversies as generous gateways to the glories of the gospel.