What have we gotten ourselves into? Rather, where have we been taken?
In case you’ve been living at McDonald’s, the Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A answered a question about marriage and gave his personal views to a Baptist media outlet. And the cold (culture) war began. I don’t have any interest in commenting on the war but on how Christians should react during these times. Instead of looking outward and wagging the finger; let’s look at ourselves.
A Bold Mistake?
We all know the pickle that Chick-fil-A was served. I prefer no pickles. Literally and metaphorically. How are we to navigate this Charade-fil-A? We can’t ignore it. We can’t go around it. We can’t go over it. But should we have driven-thru it? Was “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” (CFA Day) a good idea? Yes and no. I’m not against supporting Chick-fil-A. They get my support, probably once a week — if not more. I know. I know.
For some CFA Day was a win. They wanted to support free speech, free market, capitalism, and the like. I even saw videos of Non-Christians enjoying some waffle fries and pray tell? “I live in America, and no one is going to tell me what I can’t eat.”
But here’s how CFA Day could be a grisly nugget, fit for the dogs. If CFA Day was to “show them” — whoever the “them” are — it’s a loss. And that’s most certainly how the world will interpret what we’re cookin’. The world drew their line in the sand. “We hate Chick-fil-A!” Evangelicals drew one back. And probably the wrong one. “Oh yeah! We love Chick-fil-a.” Barnabas Piper is right; this drove the “Us v.s. Them” wedge deeper. What we should “show them” is the love of Christ, and that isn’t by ordering a #1.
Is Chick-fil-A even worried about our support? Are they worried about the demand for deep fried goodness? I doubt they are shaking behind the fryers. CFA Day may or may not have been a mistake. Time will tell. When we do go to Chick-fil-a, it shouldn’t be with a proud and swaggering heart. But a humble one. Even a missional one. I’d eat at Chick-fil-A if they were pro homosexual marriage. I go to Starbucks . . . and I doubt we can pull that boycott off.
The Christian Reaction to Controversy
I love Chick-fil-A. Love. It. I have no issue with them. What troubles me the most is how Christians respond to dust ups like Chick-fil-a-gate.
Don’t be shocked when unbelievers act like unbelievers. They aren’t going to agree with us. They aren’t going to like what we say. It’s unchristian of us to think non Christians are going to act like Christians.
A friend on Facebook wrote, “I experienced some personal messages calling me Hitler and someone who breeds hate, after posting my photo of Chick-fil-a today.” Stupid, idiotic, hateful, and plain sad — and this is our future.
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. – John 15:20
The time will come — if not blooming — that we will be cast out, marginalized, vilified, and persecuted for the truths of our faith and the Truth.
We shouldn’t get our napkins in a bunch when we are snubbed. For some time now the tides have been turning in the USA, and the Bible-belt is beginning to feel the ripples. Our boat got rocked a wee-bit and many didn’t like it. We need to get over it. This isn’t anything new to Christians in Seattle or New England. This is the South’s first bite of the new ‘merica — a big deep fried bite.
The Wrong Way
Navigating controversy isn’t a clean process. Our flesh wants to be justified. When wronged, American blood snaps with a no-you-didn’t attitude — the kind of response that is not fitting for the follower of Christ.
When we feel the need to stand up, let our voice be heard, show them what we’re made of, etc. — we are acting like the world and not our Savior. We are becoming the very thing we are trying to fight against. We should stand up and unite for the the oppressed, for others (The Civil Rights Movement, Pro-Life Causes, etc.); but when we are being attacked, a whole different approach is needed.
We can’t fight being marginalized by marginalizing others.
The Right Way
Let’s hold to the truth. And let’s always say the truth. And let’s really love those who hate our truth, and now us. Let’s love like God loved us when we hated him.
The gospel is our model and empowerment to be counter-cultural in the midst of a culture war. We shouldn’t fight to preserve a broken culture. We are bringing in a new one. A gospel culture. And it starts with a church on gospel mission. Maintenance Mode Christianity loves CFA Day, “We can’t lose ground.” You know what? Maybe we need to lose some ground to advance the mission. Missional Christianity prays for the lost, seeks how to love them, and how to show them Jesus.
We shouldn’t be known for being against sinners, but being for their salvation. Sinners never felt put off being around Jesus. He offered them hope.
When we are bullied, here’s what we are supposed to do:
When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure – 1 Cor. 4:12.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. – 1 Peter 2:23.
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:9.
And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. – 1 Thess. 4:11–12.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1–3.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. – Proverbs 17:14.
It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. – Proverbs 20:3.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. Titus 3:1–3. [Read all of Titus 3 . . . wow.]
Gospel works — good works motivated from the gospel, for the glory of God — are the right response.
We need a better perspective. Who cares if we make sure our Evangelical Flag is firmly in the ground? I don’t. The flag can wave and the church can be sick on peanut oil. If we lose Evangelicalism, as we know it, and the church is healthy, it is far better for America. Jesus didn’t promise anything about Evangelicalism, but He did about his church. She’ll be fine, chicken sandwiches or not.
Do we want Chick-fil-A to be a stumbling block? Everything evangelicals prize isn’t worth stumbling-block-status, only the evangel bears that title. Timothy was circumcised to remove a stumbling block; would you give up a chicken sandwich?
We can win the culture and win no one to Jesus. And we can lose the culture war and win droves to Jesus. I prefer the latter — with no pickles and a Coke Zero®.