In the Christian faith, we are called to be bold, to be counter-cultural, to make a stand for Christ. Sometimes though,  how we go about that actually hinders the cause of Christ.

Grant it, the Christian faith isn’t meant to appease anyone, to somehow be a “everything’s going to be ok” sentiment. There will be disagreements and conflicts. Jesus does say that there will be those against you, those who persecute (i.e. demean, maybe even threaten violence or death) for the sake of his name. Jesus’s challenge wasn’t for everyone to feel everything is ok, but to understand why it isn’t ok and how he wants to restore creation.

At times though, in our aim to be bold, to be counter cultural, we’re really just acting like jerks. Some Christians think if enough people are mad at them, then they’re doing their job. Yet maybe the way we tick people off isn’t because of Jesus’s claims but because we go about in such an arrogant and superior manner. (Some would include groups like Westboro Baptist Church or Terry Jones.)

Paul the Apostle has never minced words. You knew where he stood and the claims of Christ he was preaching. He may even come across as slightly arrogant to some. Yet a passage in Acts 19 suggests that Paul wasn’t an antagonistic follower out to condemn everyone. In this episode, Paul’s two friends were hauled before a huge crowd in Ephesus because some people felt the Christian way was undercutting their business. Paul wants to go in to help them. However, it is the city officials (who by contextual accounts weren’t Christians) are the ones urging Paul not to go for fear of his safety. They cared enough for him to try to protect him. If Paul treated those officials in a condescending manner, would they have looked out for him? Likely not. Which then suggests Paul, while firm in his convictions, related to people in such a way that they knew he cared for them even if they didn’t agree.

Christians are called to be a witness for Jesus. We are to be culture changers, showing the world what kind of restoration is possible. We just need to understand the difference between being bold and being a jerk.

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