What is it like to be on the frontlines of controversy?
A sneaker wave of attention unexpectedly falls on a person’s shore. Somebody has uncovered a past comment that appears hateful, racist, or unacceptable. A news report uncovers a company actions that causes a public outcry. They quickly scramble to provide a satisfactory response to keep their profit share. In the political arena, entertainment world, or other high-profile venues, people hire experts to know how to deftly avoid or even take advantage of informational storms.
Controversies demand resolution. They rarely ride off into the sunset on their own. Supporters or opportunists will use whatever means at their disposal to further their cause by riding the wave created by controversy.
Evangelism can spark controversy.
When I share with people that I have the privilege of partnering with Christian congregations to help train people to verbally proclaim the gospel, people will either look at me with awe and admiration or an uncomfortable nod of the head. I may be praiseworthy to one person or silently labeled as intolerant by another.
I believe this is the case with every Christian believer who verbally proclaims the gospel with others. They automatically place themselves as a target. They are a light on top of a hill that will either be listened to, tolerated, or shot at.
Either way, a Christian evangelist should not be surprised when they are placed in the front lines of controversy.
That was certainly the case with Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus warned them of persecution, division of family, and a life of suffering for those who are active in proclaiming the Good News. There seems to be little accolade when bringing messages from the King.
No wonder fear is a primary cause for Christians to withdraw, hold their tongue or feel paralyzed with inadequacy when opportunities arise to proclaim their faith to others.
Fear is not a fruit of the Spirit, but a self-generated reaction to a world that is quick to condemn. At its core, fear is a natural response to the preservation of self.
The solution is receiving perfect love and perfect vision.
Perfect Love: The only way to overcome fear is to receive perfect love (1 John 4:18). Nobody can generate perfect love on their own. It can only come from Christ. Natural fear can only be dissolved by an unnatural love generated outside of ourselves. That source is freely given in Christ.
Perfect Vision: Believers who trust in Christ’s promises fix their eyes on what is unseen rather than what is seen. Fear rests on what is temporary. Work prompted by love, produced by faith, and inspired by hope is based on what is unseen and eternal. Perfect visions sees what Jesus sees – a field that needs to be planted with gospel seeds, a harvest that needs to reaped, and workers that are few.
Perhaps when the winds of controversy start to blow in our direction, we can turn to face the wind with the spirit of gratefulness. We can seize the opportunity to praise our King by proclaiming his reign over this world, his dominion over our life, and what he has already done for us in Christ Jesus.
We can pray,
“Lord, I thank you for preserving me this day that you have already ordained for me. May I live out my time with a heart for you, a voice to proclaim, and legs that do not run from the prospects of controversy. Like the sturdy red & white lighthouses on a rocky shore, may our words and actions be a beacon of your Light to the world. Thank you for the privilege of reflecting your grace throughout this dark world. Amen.”