Well-meaning Christians often use terminology that to non-believers sounds like extremism or radical fundamentalism. You may have heard any of the following words or phrases in your church-going experience:
“Turn the world upside down”
Military metaphors like “Take the world from the enemy” or
“Enlist in God’s army”
“Set the world on fire”
These things sound like chaos, destruction, warfare or religious and can make people actually concerned. Religion is already associated enough with war, control, greed, the crusades, terrorism and other things that terms like the above can elicit in those we are trying to reach.
I know people mean well when they say things like this. When they talk about being radical, they mean to be counter-culture with things like love, forgiveness and grace. Christians may want to “set the world on fire” with the loving message of God’s saving grace. We may intend to “turn the world upside down” by seeing people turn from sin and live for God. But that may not be how people hear it. May I suggest that the world needs to hear the church talk more about hope, healing, encouragement, love and grace. Perhaps we could talk more about reaching the poor, hurting and lonely people who need some positivity. Just a thought.
When Jesus spoke in the synagogue for the first time as an adult (Luke 4:16-19) he read from Isaiah 61.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Now let’s look at the words and phrases Jesus used to change the world:
set the oppressed free
People need to hear a message of positivity, love, encouragement, healing and forgiveness. They need The Good News. The world suffers enough from natural disasters, disease, tragedy, wars, terrorism, poverty, social injustice and a host of other problems. In my opinion, there’s enough chaos. We could try to change our words and actions to bring healing, love and hope.