I was raised in church where Christians were described as being “in the world but not of it.” We learned that movies, dancing, playing cards, alcohol, tobacco, even friendships with non-believers were all taboo. There seemed to be an us-versus-them mentality subtly assuming that we were superior. Even then I wondered if “the world” just saw us as being weird.
Things are different now. In a stimulating blog post last week (Mereorthodoxy.com), Brett McCracken asked “Have Christians lost their sense of difference?” McCracken is a twentysomething writer and managing editor of Biola Magazine. He writes that when he goes to parties with Christian friends, and then parties with non-Christian friends they are “observably indistinguishable…. We are the same in the toxic cynicism lacing our speech, the obscene language, the general negativity, the way we dress, drink, and smoke, the movies and TV we watch, the music we listen to, the pop culture we consume, and the way we cordon off ‘spirituality’ in a manner that keeps it from interfering with our pursuits of pleasure….And we wonder why so few bother with a Christianity…that offers nothing radically different or new.”
Christian counseling and coaching students often want to bring their beliefs into their careers. Professors urge them to memorize and practice methods, models and popular views of integration. But Christian commitment and faith-practice integration is not so much evidenced by the Bible verses we quote, the rules we live by or the methods that we study and seek to apply. What counts more are the characteristics that we reflect: moral excellence, knowledge about God, self-control, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the others (Gal. 5:22,23; 2 Peter 1:5-8.) Nobody will bring a genuine Christian perspective to counseling, coaching, leadership or even ministry unless he or she is living a vibrant Christian life (difficult to define as that is). We don’t make an impact by being weirdly different from others or by throwing in a few integration techniques while we blend with the secular crowd.
To build on Brett McCracken, would any observer be able to pick you, me, or any other Christian counselor, coach, or leader from their non-Christian counterparts? “In what ways are we embodying the call to be salt and light, a city on a hill (Matt.5:13-16)…called out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9)? Are we “more often blending in with the dark than with advancing the light?”
What do you think? Please comment.