Stumbling Over Stereotypes

In a recent conversation with friends, I was told that there is a huge bias out there and that the average American looks at Christians as undeniably racist. And because of that bias, that prejudice and that stereotype, we can’t just go up to people and share the good news of the gospel with them, because they think we are racist and therefore won’t listen to us. What we must do first, is repair all the damage that Christendom has done over the past several decades in America so that when we open our mouth to speak, the person will listen to what we have to say.

I had to object to this falsehood, this sort of indoctrinated thinking which, I believe, is at the heart of the problem that we are facing in America today. But first, let me back up a little bit.

When we read Scripture, we read about a Jesus who is constantly engaging with people, all kinds of people, in the public square. He is constantly preaching the good news of the kingdom, sharing the gospel, and talking about sin and judgment and righteousness. And as he went, he led around his 12 disciples and showed them by example what it means to be an imitator of Christ.

Unfortunately, we have come to a place in our Christian ethos where everything we do is largely indoors and among ourselves. Leaders don’t really lead the way Jesus did. Elders (not all, but most) don’t take you into the public square to preach (proclaim) the good news to people nor do they go with you when you are convicted yourself to go. And because most church leaders aren’t leading in this way, multiple generations of Christians have been produced after their kind who don’t have a zealous heart for the lost and dying world around them and very little actual evangelism is happening in our nation today.

So, as I was talking to this person about racist stereotypes towards Christians, I explained that people have all sorts of stereotypes about Christians but that does not change the fact that God calls us to preach the gospel to every creature. And here is the truth: most people in America will have a friendly conversation about things that are eternally important. I talk to thousands of people every year on the streets of Los Angeles about the gospel. Yes, some people that I talk to probably have various negative stereotypes about me, my motives and intentions and they blow me off. Other people are genuinely disinterested in spiritual things. But more often than not, in a matter of minutes, I can go from being a complete stranger to someone to having a warm, loving, friendly conversation with them about the most important truths in life, all because I took the time to show that I genuinely care about them and their well being. I don’t care what color or creed or faith background they come from. I am seeking to share the good news of the gospel with a person made in the image of God so that they might be reconciled to their Creator; and when a person understands that, false stereotypes quickly fall by the wayside.

What we need to remember is that whenever we step out to evangelize those around us, we are either planting a seed or watering a seed. What really matters is that it is God who brings the increase. He simply calls us to be His ambassadors in this exciting ministry of reconciliation. So a major part of the problem with American Christendom and with these race issues, is that Christians simply do not go out of their way to talk to people, like Jesus did. Now, if every Christian in America (or even 1 in 10 for that matter) was regularly talking with friends as well as strangers about the gospel, the stereotype of racism would simply be untenable for them. Why? Because the world would know, based on our actions, that the Christian Church cares about their souls regardless of whether they are Black, White, Asian, Latino, Young, Old, Gay, Straight, etc.

I am convinced that if we did this one simple thing, on a regular basis, the world would be a radically different place.

So, I encourage you to be part of the change. Let’s change the stereotypes and become known as a church who loves our neighbor enough to tell them the truth about how to find eternal peace with the One who created them! To start, simply find a place in your local area where you can go talk to people about Jesus. We don’t need to write our culture off as hopeless. We can change the culture we live in and it is not through anything difficult or complicated. It is a matter of simple obedience to the call to proclaim the gospel to all creation.

Maybe you agree; maybe you disagree. Either way, I would love to hear about it in the comments. Until next time, God bless.

Gallagher

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