It doesn’t take much for Americans to feel offended. Don’t believe me? Check out this webpage. It tracked a year of “Outrage Culture” by listing what upset people every day in 2014. Even these past few weeks have had their fair share of controversy, whether its women playing soccer, police drinking at Starbucks, or American flags on Nike shoes.
But how do Christians fit into this? Can and should Christians engage in these controversies? Should believers live a life that shifts from one outrage to the other? Should they only shop at Hobby Lobby and eat at Chick-Fil-A?
The way Christians answer these questions will not only define Christianity in America, it already has. Here’s three things to keep in mind in response to controversies and “outrage culture.”
1. Christians Should Navigate Their World Through a Biblical Lens
There are some in the church who wish that Christians would simply lighten up. “Why can’t we just love God and not make such a big deal about everything?” One fellow believer asked me once.
The frustration makes sense. It’s hard to keep up with what Christian social media deems acceptable and unacceptable every single day. No Christian wants to walk into church in the wrong brand of shoes or with the wrong cup of coffee!
But while it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, it’s also important to remember that every choice matters. Nothing in our life is too small that we should not do it for God (1 Cor 10:31). So yes, every cup of coffee and pair of shoes you buy does matter. We should make those choices with intentionality, not based on what other Christians say, but based on what God says (Rom. 12:1-2). Our wallet is our voice, and we should use both our voice and wallet to glorify God. Life is too short for anything less.
2. Personal Boycotts Should Not Become a Religion
But it’s equally important to remember that the convictions we make for ourselves should not become our religion. I’ve known of non-believers who were assumed to be Christians—not because they ever confessed faith in Christ—but because they got outraged at the same things other Christians did. This reveals a troubling reality about how Americans define Christianity. What we attack—not who we confess—has become our marker.
Our faith should influence our cultural convictions, but our convictions should not become our faith. Too many Christians have removed Christ from the throne of their heart and replaced it with the idol of social media justice. They make outrage their worship, and their desire for moral superiority the object of that worship. Keep Christ at the center of your convictions.
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus." --Colossians 3:17a
3. Convictions Should Not Get in the Way of Commission
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, it was His last chance to speak to His disciples. He could have told them anything. If it was me, I would’ve warned them about future issues like racism and abortion. But Jesus didn’t do that.
Jesus said “Make disciples.” Or, in the literal Greek, “As you’re going, make disciples.” Jesus didn’t tell them what wine shops to avoid and where to buy their sandals. He didn’t specify whether they should attend a gay wedding if their friend invited them. He simply said that wherever they go, they better be making disciples while going there.
The more personal convictions we make, the smaller our world becomes. There are only so many stores and restaurants and schools we can cross off our list. But ironically, Jesus told His disciples to make their world bigger, not smaller. He told them to not only go to Judea, but also to Samaria—a place they hated. He even told them to go to the ends of the Earth. That included Rome, where Caesar piked and lit Christians like street lamps. It even included Corinth, where they worshipped their deities through prostitution. I wonder what Jesus would say today "You will be my witnesses in Starbucks, and at the Nike store, and in public schools, and at gay bakeries, and to the ends of the internet." Who knows.
More often than not Jesus told people where they should go instead of where they shouldn’t go. Jesus was a bridge builder and a wall breaker. Why do we do the opposite?
In the end, it won’t matter if you get your chicken sandwich from McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A. What will matter is if you did it for the glory of God, and if you told people about Jesus along the way. That may sound fanatical, but is it more fanatical than swearing off a brand of coffee for the rest of your life because of something you read on Facebook?
When we stand before Heaven, God will not care where we took our business. He will care if we did His business. The people we meet, not the products we purchase, will define our spiritual legacy.
The world will always give us a reason for outrage. We must give the world a reason for joy. God gave us that reason through Jesus, who died on a Cross and ate with sinners—perhaps even at a Starbucks.
Resting in Him,