I’m anticipating a new sport at the Brissy Olympics: The Takedown. It’s individual events the Shoot-Down, the Shut-Down, junior event the Sick Burn, and the showcase Cancellation have been ‘raised’ to an art-form by an increasing number of adherents. Takedowns are faster, outrage is higher, and bullying is stronger than ever – so the Olympics seem a natural fit.
The fear of receiving such rejection is one of the big reasons that many Christians are reluctant to share their faith. I’m sure that’s no issue for you, sacred agent, but perhaps it could be for a ‘friend’ of yours? Here’s three thoughts that might help your friend:
Firstly, if you’re polite, you’re very unlikely to suffer a takedown. Your friend might be surprised to know just how much respect there is in regular Australian society for Christian convictions when raised politely. If you tell your boss you’d prefer not to work on Sunday mornings because you’re involved in a church, it is vastly more likely that they’ll respect you rather than humiliate or fire you. This is not merely toleration – there’s real respect out there for people with solid convictions and the character to own them openly.
Secondly, remember that silence is not neutral. Silence conveys disregard and disinterest. It suggests that the news we have isn’t interesting or important. And silence creates space for lots of other less helpful voices. If the only Christians people hear from are the whacky and obnoxious ones, they’ll think that’s what Christianity is. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of times we should shut our mouths and open our ears. But that’s not useful as a permanent policy.
Finally if your friend does suffer a takedown, it can be a powerful opportunity to represent Christ. In such situations we’ll face two temptations: (a) to go back into our shell and renew our vows of silence, telling ourselves that we obviously messed it all up or (b) to double down into argument and demand our right to free speech. It’s flight or fight, isn’t it? To flee the fire or fight fire with fire. But our God fights fire with … you know, water. If we stay in the moment, turn the other cheek, and demonstrate calm grace – well that is likely to make a lasting impression. Even on – perhaps especially on – the most olympian of Takedown artists.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12NIV
Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me. – Luke 10:16NIV